Brexit: the Erasmus and Horizon programmes Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction


1.‘Horizon 2020’ and ‘Erasmus+’ are the 2014–2020 EU funding programmes for research and innovation and for education, training, youth and sport, including educational exchanges for young people. The UK is currently a significant player in both programmes. Over 53% of university students undertaking a period of study abroad do so through Erasmus+, and the UK has the highest share (12.8%) of participants in signed Horizon 2020 grant agreements. The UK has received €5.7 billion (15.2%) of Horizon 2020 funding distributed so far, making it the second largest recipient of programme funding after Germany. Under Erasmus+, the UK is expected to be allocated €1 billion over the 2014–2020 period and €677 million has been distributed to UK projects to date.1

2.Consequently, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU—and the related potential loss of access to Erasmus or Horizon in March 2019, or at the end of any transition period—could have a significant impact on ‘mobility opportunities’ for people in the UK to study, train, teach, and gain experience abroad, and on the funding available for UK research projects, and how UK organisations participate in international research collaboration.

This inquiry

3.This short inquiry focused on the short and longer-term implications of Brexit for UK participation in the Erasmus+ and Horizon 20202 programmes. The report begins with an overview of both programmes, and plans for their successors in the 2021–2027 Multiannual Financial Framework period (the ‘Erasmus’3 and ‘Horizon Europe’ programmes). Chapter 3 explores the implications of the UK leaving the EU under the terms of the November 2018 Withdrawal Agreement, compared to a ‘no deal’ scenario, for the Government’s stated aim of continuing to participate in Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 for the duration of the programme period. Chapter 4 considers options for future UK policy: whether and how the UK could become associated to the 2021–2027 Erasmus and Horizon Europe programmes, and the possibility of the UK developing its own replacement schemes. Cross-cutting issues including the impact of future UK immigration policy and ongoing uncertainty around the circumstances of UK withdrawal from the EU are also considered.

4.The EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee, whose members are listed in Appendix 1, met in December 2018 and January 2019 to take evidence for this inquiry. We are grateful to those who gave oral evidence and to those who provided written submissions, all of whom are listed in Appendix 2.

5.We make this report to the House for debate.

1 Erasmus+ UK National Agency, Statistics for Erasmus+ 2014–2018 (updated September 2018): [accessed 2 January 2019]; Erasmus+ UK National Agency, ‘2019 Erasmus+ Call published’ (25 October 2018): [accessed 2 January 2019]; European Commission, Horizon 2020 in full swing three years on: key facts and figures 2014–2016, pp 27–28: [accessed 7 January 2019], and Q 42 (Chris Skidmore MP).

2 The Horizon 2020 programme is a collaborative financial instrument. Many of its funding streams support collaborations between academic institutions and industry partners, and there is a dedicated instrument to support innovative small and medium-sized companies. The Sub-Committee’s remit includes matters relating to home affairs, health, and education, and so this inquiry focused on Horizon 2020 funding for universities. Figures referenced in this report on total UK receipts from Horizon 2020 encompass all programme pillars, including industrial leadership.

3 ‘Erasmus+’ is the name of the EU’s programme for education, training, youth and sport for the period from 2014 to 2020. At the time of drafting, the successor programme to Erasmus+ is expected to be called simply ‘Erasmus’, although some Member States favour retaining the ‘+’ for continuity. In this report, we refer to the current programme as Erasmus+ and the next iteration as ‘the successor programme’ and ‘the 2021–2027 Erasmus programme’ interchangeably. Witnesses to this inquiry referred variously to both the current and successor programmes as ‘Erasmus’ and ‘Erasmus+’ or ‘Erasmus Plus’.

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