Brexit, science and innovation Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

1.We are encouraged to see the Government providing input to the EU’s consultation on the shape of Framework Programme 9, including the emphases it places on excellence and innovation. These are important features for the new programme, and the UK should continue to play a full part in shaping FP9 while it remains a member of the EU, not least to demonstrate the contribution that UK research and innovation can continue to make post-Brexit for the mutual benefit of the UK and EU members. (Paragraph 9)

2.We are concerned that the Government’s default position does not appear to be that the UK will participate in Framework Programme 9. While the details of the Programme have not yet been agreed, the Government should state clearly that it intends to participate unless there is a material unfavourable difference between the new Programme and its predecessor, and that the UK is ready to pay a fair ‘entry fee’ to secure this. If the price is too high, or the focus on excellence is diluted, a change in approach might be warranted, but the Government’s explicitly stated assumption must be to participate fully. Specifically, the Government should state clearly in its response to this Report that it intends to secure Associated Country status for Framework Programme 9. (Paragraph 15)

3.For the UK to achieve the Government’s stated goal of continuing to welcome the brightest and the best, it is imperative that the migration system for scientists, researchers and scientific technicians recognises the need for mobility, including the benefits for scientists moving between research organisations and taking part in collaborative visits A EU-UK science and innovation ‘pact’ must encompass issues relating to ‘people’. A pact that does not address this fully would be pointless. The Migration Advisory Committee is due to report in September 2018, but the current uncertainty cannot be allowed to continue for another six months. We recommend that the Government ask the Migration Advisory Committee to bring forward its conclusions in relation to the immigration arrangements needed to support science and innovation, and build these into a science and innovation agreement with the EU by October 2018 or earlier if possible. We are concerned that if a people-centred science and innovation pact is negotiated later it risks being less comprehensive due to other negotiation priorities of the wider post-Brexit trade deal. Furthermore, if a pact is not agreed in late 2018 this will increase risks to retaining and attracting the essential talent that our science and innovation sectors need. (Paragraph 23)

4.The Science Minister’s response to us on clinical trials regulation is unsatisfactory. His position that “the current regulatory approval legislation will stay in place until such time as any changes are needed” ignores the fact that work is needed now to ensure that the UK can participate in and lead clinical trials in the future. We recommend that the Government revisit this statement in its response to our report. (Paragraph 31)

5.Producing an early agreement on science and innovation would set a positive tone for the rest of the Brexit negotiations, and should be a clear ‘win-win’ for both the UK and the EU. We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to agreeing “a far-reaching science and innovation pact”, but we are concerned that delays in agreeing this will undermine the UK’s current position as a science superpower. Given the significance of science and innovation to the UK economy, reaching an agreement on this should now be as important to the Government as the question of security. It must be stripped out from the wider trade negotiations for focused attention, rather than become a knock-on consequence of other negotiations or traded against other aspects of a post-Brexit deal. We do not accept that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ in this context. We recommend that the Government make drafting and negotiating a science and innovation agreement an urgent priority. Our report sets out the key issues that such an agreement should cover. (Paragraph 40)

Published: 21 March 2018