The Guild calls for a strengthening of EU-UK research collaboration in EU framework programmes

Published: 30 April 2024

The Guild’s Deans of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities recently gathered at the University of Glasgow.

The Guild’s Deans of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities (SSAH) recently gathered at the University of Glasgow.

In their statement they stress the importance of the reassociation of the UK to Horizon Europe and its successor programmes, full empowerment of SSAH research collaborations in EU framework programmes and the urgent need for Switzerland to associate to enhance Europe’s competitiveness and resilience to better address societal challenges.

The Guild welcomes the reassociation of the UK to Horizon Europe and Copernicus programme and stresses the importance of making this re-connection impactful, especially for the generation of UK researchers that has never had the opportunity to engage in the EU framework programme. UK and EU partners should collectively strive for new research collaborations and optimally exploit the opportunities offered by the reassociation. Universities could support this re-engagement by providing seed funding for Horizon applications and exploring bilateral agreements that could enable researchers to join larger networks.

Previous monitoring report found that SSAH disciplines are an example of an area where the Framework Programme funding has made a visible impact in research communities through Pillar 1. These disciplines will contribute significantly to societal development and resilience if they are allowed to flourish and develop across present and future framework programmes and can draw on the added value offered by EU/UK collaborations.

Research and education that fully integrate the SSAH disciplines will be able to strengthen the competitiveness of Europe, to close the technology gap, and to address global challenges such as democratic backsliding, ageing of the population, and climate change.

There is continuous support from The Guild and the research community at large to maintain research links with excellent partners during times when funding for collaboration is disrupted due to political reasons. In this context The Guild highlights that the Swiss research community is still lacking Horizon Europe association and not able to play its full role in European scientific networks. We welcome the restart of the negotiations between EU and Switzerland and encourage all relevant stakeholders to showcase the necessity for a swift reassociation.

Collaboration is instrumental in addressing pressing societal challenges that transcend national boundaries. There is a need for collaborative efforts informed by rigorous research in the realms of Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities. Researchers must be given access to the rich tapestry of interdisciplinary resources and research networks that bring added value to the entire European society by reinforcing our competitiveness and strengthening our resilience in the long term. Therefore, The Guild stresses the urgency to streamline the process for associating countries with long-standing legacies of participation in the development of the European Research Area and ensure that the collaborations will continue in the upcoming EU framework programmes.

Anselm Heinrich, International Dean at the College of Arts & Humanities at the University of Glasgow said: “Research collaboration with continental Europe remains central to UK universities. Our reassociation to Horizon Europe both confirms these strong ties and encourages the UK research community to strengthen the engagement even further.”

Ole Petter Ottersen, Acting Secretary-General at The Guild: “If there was ever a win-win it must be the recent reassociation of UK with the EU Framework Programme. Now is the time to exploit the new possibilities in full, not least in the field of SSAH. This field, important in its own right, will be essential to meet the societal challenges in Europe and beyond in the years to come. Reconnecting and reinforcing UK-EU collaborations long-term should be high on the agenda, for researchers as well as political decision-makers on both sides of the channel. Switzerland should now be next in line for a full reassociation with the current and future framework programmes, to the benefit of Europe’s competitiveness and resilience.”

First published: 30 April 2024