What after 2020? Short sighted politics lead UK off competition

London 7 Dec. 2017 – The often misused sentence ‘UK pays more into the EU budget than it gets back’, is an incorrect and partial statement meaning access to EU direct extra funds such as R&D, structural funds, SME, start ups, public sector contributions and direct funds to private sector and universities through grants are not being taken into account or not evaluated by their lives changing impact as they should. 

As the chart above shows, UK is second in line after Germany, in getting EU funds from Horizon 2020. Until 2016 UK received (out of the main budget) the 15% of 74,8bn Horizon 2014 – 2020 budget: British researchers and innovators directly received 15.2% of the overall funding available through grants, as well as benefiting indirectly from funding allocated to their project partners from elsewhere. This money is off the main yearly contribution UK gave to the EU budget which amounts to 8.1bn net in 2016 (see below) .

According to CORDA (Copernicus Reference Access Data), structural funds and Horizon access by region, see England as first with €2.2 billion receiving 85% of the total EU structural funds until 2016, followed by Wales with €55mln and Northern Ireland €43m, while Scotland got from EU Horizon €296m. Over the first three years of the EU programme, 2014-16, British universities, SMEs and other private organisations benefited with over 7500 projects from the €77bn (£68bn) EU Horizon grant schemes.

With the aim of relieving concerns over Brexit and inviting voters to merrily go to polling stations to say YES or NO to their future,  the Chancellor Philip Hammond,  before Brexit referendum, announced research, structural and investment projects awarded with EU funds before the 2016 Autumn Statement and Horizon research funding already granted until March 2019 ‘will be guaranteed by the Treasury after UK leaves the EU. The government will also match the current level of agricultural funding until 2020’.

The structural question is, then, which funds UK will get after 2020 to replace EU funds. The growth below zero and negative trend of soaring inflation rate, plus the trend of hiding updated data and figures on current economic situation in the UK will be no longer effective. The UK is already heading off regional and global competition with no future access to vital funds such EU structural ones created right with the goal of increasing EU regional competitiveness vis a vis other regions of the globe.

The short term view of politics is not matching the basic needs of British economy and society which, prior to exiting the EU, is exiting any chance to keep up and grow its excellence.