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EU ‘dithering’ won’t hold back UK from space as huge new deal is struck

  • November 25, 2022

The ESA is independent of the EU. It ensures that “European nations will always have access to space and to its benefits for the planet, society and economy”. And it is also an example of how the UK can still cooperate with the EU on joint projects that are separate from political disputes. 

But unlike the ESA, there are a number of programmes which are controlled by the EU that the UK was set to take part in, despite leaving the bloc after Brexit. It was agreed as part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that Britian would join the £80billion Horizon Europe, as well as Copernicus and Euratom. 

However, the bloc later told Britain that it cannot join until the Norhtern Ireland Protocol dispute is smoothed over, despite the political feud having nothing to do with science. Nearly two years on, and Britain’s access remains blocked, with the delay causing huge headache and concerns for scientists that were promised EU grants as part of the schemes.

Luckily, this “dithering” will not impact the UK’s contribution to the ESA, argues Mr Freeman. He wrote in a comment piece for the Telegraph: “The European Space Agency, of which the UK is a founding member, is a unique organisation that stands separate to the EU, built on the solid foundation of international collaboration. As I have always made clear, our greatest strength – particularly in innovative fields like space exploration and RD – lies in the ability to collaborate across borders, bringing together world-leading talent regardless of nationality or politics.

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