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International funding and collaboration

Up-to-date information on the major EU funding programmes UK researchers can still access post-Brexit.


The UK’s physical sciences sector has access to many internationally co-funded research and development (R&D) programmes, but as the UK’s transition period with the EU has come to an end, the UK has lost access to a number of these.

This section provides up-to-date information on which major EU funding programmes UK researchers can still participate in.

1. Horizon 2020

The Withdrawal Agreement means that the UK can continue to participate in Horizon 2020, which began in 2016, until the programme's closure. Supported projects will continue to be funded for a lifetime of grants. 

Read more about Horizon 2020.

2. Horizon Europe

The next EU research framework is Horizon Europe, which will span 2021-2027 and total €95.5bn (£85.6bn). The UK has agreed participation in this as part of the trade deal agreement.

The terms of participation for the UK are not yet agreed, and the IOP will continue to advocate for a membership which supports the UK’s physics sector.

3. Copernicus

Copernicus is the ESA’s and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites’ (EUMETSAT) earth observation programme.

The UK has secured continued participation in the Copernicus programme.

Read more about Copernicus.

4. Space surveillance and tracking services

EUSST is an EU space surveillance and tracking (SST) capability to protect EU space infrastructure (for example, satellites) from risks of collision with other orbital objects (other satellites and debris), and to provide civil contingency services with accurate data regarding debris re-entering the atmosphere.

In the UK, the UK Space Agency distributes EU funding to UK organisations to carry out the necessary tasks to fulfil the EUSST programme. 

The UK has secured continued participation in these surveillance and tracking services.

Read more about EU space surveillance and tracking services.

5. The European Space Agency (ESA)

The UK will remain a member of the ESA, and UK-based researchers and innovators can bid for, and participate in, both UK-based and international projects, as per ESA protocol.

6. ITER

The ITER project is designed to build the world’s first functioning nuclear fusion system. The UK has secured continued participation in the project.

Read more about ITER.

7. Euratom

Euratom is a complementary research programme for nuclear research and training. Euratom aims to pursue nuclear research and training activities with an emphasis on continually improving nuclear safety, security and radiation protection, notably to contribute to the long-term decarbonisation of the energy system in a safe, efficient and secure way.

The UK has secured continued participation in the programme.

Read more about Euratom.

Lost access

Galileo and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service

Galileo is the ESA's Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Galileo aims to provide high-precision positioning, navigation and timing, as well as autonomy from other GNSS systems such as GPS.

The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) is a satellite-based augmentation system which augments GNSS signals to enable them to be relied upon in situations which need high precision.

In the absence of defence co-operation, the UK will not have access to the Galileo GNSS and encrypted military data. The government is still exploring options for a domestic alternative.

Read more about Galileo and EGNOS.