A new joint statement from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom's orderly withdrawal from the European Union has been released (June 2018).

ETUCE regrets to observe that education and research is not still included in the agenda of the 2nd phase of the Brexit negotiations, for the future UK-EU partnership. Instead, security and defense policies, taxation, procurement and customs seem to continue being key priorities for both negotiating parties.

Following the ETUCE statement on Brexit, there are several reasons why prioritising discussions on research and education within the negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship, with the involvement of EU and national education unions, would be a wise and urgent decision for both the EU and UK.

  • Association of the UK to the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and the Erasmus+ Programme: It is important to secure full UK participation in the Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ successor programmes as an associate country. The conclusion of Horizon 2020 coincides with the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, with the new programme starting on 1 January 2021. ETUCE warns that the approach that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” puts science and innovation in both the EU and UK at unnecessary risk".
  • Clarity about the status of the UK in relation to other European research initiatives, such as Copernicus, the European Open Science Cloud, and the European Education Area: According to recent statistical data, 6 of the UK’s top ten countries for research collaboration are located in Europe. 17 % of academics in the UK are from other EU countries, while 30% of UK academic papers include EU contributors. Early alignment of funding programmes would provide reassurance that a deep and constructive relationship between the EU and UK is feasible.
  • Clarity on the status and rights of mobile students and university staff in the UK and in the EU. Indeed, ETUCE supports the ETUC proposal on the UK having a new relationship with the Single Market that could be achieved by the UK acceding to EFTA and the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement in the future.

ETUCE believe that UK-EU negotiators should, therefore, start those preparatory discussions as soon as possible and include a comprehensive chapter on academic cooperation in the agreement for the future relationship, which is due to be agreed by October 2018.

Indeed, TUC (Trade Union Congress) and ETUC, together with EU business leaders ask “for urgent progress in Brexit negotiations“.

To read our ETUCE BREXIT statement, click here.