EU ‘needs £640m from UK’ in order to keep key project alive despite Article 16 threat

Lord Frost gives update on UK’s participation in Horizon Europe

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Copernicus is the EU’s space observation programme that uses satellite data to assess the Earth’s environment and brings together a number of different stakeholders across Europe. It is managed by the European Commission in partnership with the EU’s 27 member states.

The UK had been planning to contribute £15billion to three EU science projects, including Copernicus, Horizon Europe and Euratom.

But Britain’s access to these projects was suspended over Brexit disputes including fishing licenses and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Brexit Minister Lord David Frost has now warned that triggering Article 16 is very much on the table for the UK as the disputes intensify.

And European Vice President Maros Sefcovic has said this would have “serious consequences”.

In fact, this move could lead to Britain’s permanent exclusion from these EU space projects.

But while serious threats are in play, there is still hope that the disputes can be resolved.

BBC Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos wrote on Twitter: “The UK’s participation in the Copernicus EU Earth observation programme is still alive, if only on life support.

“Reminder: The UK will fall out of Copernicus unless Brussels and London can agree the terms of association.”

And while Britain risks not being involved, this could prove detrimental to the whole project.

Mr Amos believes that the EU needs the UK’s €750million (£640million) contribution to keep the project alive.

He wrote: “To be clear, everyone wants the UK to stay in Copernicus, the Commission included.

“The programme needs the UK’s €750million to progress.”

“It would be a monumental lose-lose, if this all falls apart.”

And the two sides have reached a stalemate in negotiations, with talks now being extended into 2022 due to neither side being willing to compromise on key issues.

But Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, said that the UK would “absolutely not” trigger Article 16 and override the protocol before Christmas.

London is reportedly ready to pay the €750million (£640million) contribution, but Brussels has been adamant that post-Brexit disputes should be resolved first.

Josef Aschbacher, the director-general of the European Space Agency (ESA) said, following an ESA council meeting: “With some arrangements and negotiations with industry, we could push this date into 2024.”

This comes after the official deadline for an agreement Copernicus was actually passed at the end of last month.

Ministers were given time until November 30 to figure out whether the UK will have a future in the programme.

Bur Mr Aschbacher, despite announcing that negotiations could be pushed back, also seems eager for the UK to join the project soon.

Earlier this month, he said that Copernicus is a “top priority” for the EU and the potential loss of UK funds is worrying.

EU supply chain crisis as HGV drivers protest green taxes [REPORT] 
Mystery illness sweeps through South Sudan as 89 dead [REVEAL] 
Einstein’s theory rewritten to solve universe’s greatest mystery [INSIGHT]

He told a European Parliament committee: “Everyone agrees that the next phase needs to continue undamaged.

“In other words, a solution must be found for this €750million.”
But Britain’s inclusion in Copernicus is also vital for the UK space sector too.

The project provides a wide variety of real-time satellite data on the state of the environment, climate and natural disasters – data that can influence policymaking, management of resources and the response to natural emergencies.

It has been involved in missions such as the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission,

Which has been tracking lava flows from the erupting Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Spanish Canary island of La Palma.

Science Minister George Freeman tweeted: “EU & global collaborations are KEY to UK science and innovation.

That’s why we made Association to Horizon, Euratom & Copernicus key parts of our EU Withdrawal Deal.”

Source: Read Full Article