Call to UK Government to secure future of research funding programme

First Minister writes to Prime Minister on Horizon Europe.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has written to the Prime Minister urging him to urgently secure the UK’s future in the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.

The First Minister said full association in the European programme is vital to maintaining Scotland’s world-renowned reputation in these areas.

The sector’s future level of participation in the €95.5 billion Horizon programme has been uncertain since the UK Government’s decision to pursue a ‘hard Brexit’.

The path has been open for the UK Government to reach a deal to fully access the scheme following the ‘Windsor Framework’ agreement with the European Union on the Northern Ireland protocol. Discussions between the UK Government and the European Union are taking place, and the First Minister has said it is vital that an agreement is reached to ensure that Brexit is not allowed to damage Scotland’s research and innovation sectors further.

The full text of the letter is below:

Rt Hon Rishi Sunak

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street




5th July 2023

Dear Rishi,

Last week I visited Brussels, which was a valuable and - following Brexit - much needed opportunity to reinforce the importance of the European Union to Scotland and to continue to expand and strengthen our strong links with our European neighbours.

Scotland’s universities are global leaders on research and innovation, playing a vital role in tackling some of the major social and environmental challenges we face. The Scottish Government has been clear that full association to Horizon Europe is vital in maintaining that excellent standing in research and innovation and continuing to tackle global challenges. The scope, scale and prestige of the €95.5bn programme is unparalleled and no UK scheme could replace it adequately.

I raised Horizon association with Vice President Šefčovič and we discussed the need for pragmatism with a view to rapid resolution of this longstanding negotiation. I therefore welcome the news that constructive discussions are taking place. I would ask that you show the necessary leadership required and take a broad and holistic view of the undoubted benefits arising from our participation in the programme, rather than a narrow, political calculation.

Horizon Europe delivers significant societal and economic gains, and opens up access to the essential networks, expertise and infrastructure which drive our R&I sector’s world-leading competitiveness and are fundamental to the growth which will be central to our future economic prosperity. The programme also helps set European and International standards in a wide range of fields including agriculture and health.

I urge you to agree a deal with the EU now to secure our future in Horizon Europe through full association. We have a welcome opportunity to improve our relationship with our European neighbours and to remove this needless uncertainty for Scotland’s universities and research community. It is vital that we take that opportunity, and ensure that Brexit is not allowed to damage these sectors further.



First Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister


Media enquiries

Back to top