Scotland must have certainty about access to European research programmes after Brexit, Higher Education and Science Minister Richard Lochhead has said.
The minister was speaking ahead of a meeting of ministers from the Scottish, Welsh and UK Governments on Monday October 22 which will focus on the UK’s approach to negotiating a future relationship with the EU in key areas of research, education and culture.
In sharp focus is Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020).
The Scottish delegation will be led by Minister for Parliamentary Business, Graeme Dey.
Lochhead said: “The uncertainty of Brexit is the biggest single challenge facing the university sector — and by some margin.
“That is why I am seeking an urgent commitment to prioritise access to research programmes after Brexit.
“Scottish organisations have attracted over €533 million through the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme so far – more money per head than England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
“However, the benefit is not only financial.
“Horizon 2020 has brought about research collaborations across Europe, supported innovation in our businesses and boosted Scotland’s international reputation.
“In addition, freedom of movement has been hugely beneficial for Scotland and our world-class universities and the UK Government must change its position to ensure we remain a magnet for international talent.
“The best future for Scotland is to remain inside the EU, but short of that, continuing membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union is the best way to minimise the damage of Brexit and build a broad ongoing partnership.”
A delegation of Scottish ministers, led by the Minister for Parliamentary Business on behalf of the Constitutional Relations Secretary, is attending the Ministerial Forum EU Negotiations on Monday October 22, 2018.
The forum was established as a sub-committee of the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations) in 2018.