EU Referendum vote: statement to the EERA Executive Committee

28 Jun 2016

The European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) is the public research pillar of the EU's Strategic Energy Technology Plan. In light of the EU Referendum vote, UKERC issued a statement to European colleagues in the EERA Executive Committee, here reproduced in full.

Colleagues. You will all be aware of the outcome of the referendum on UK membership of the EU last Thursday. I am grateful to the Chair for allowing me to make a brief statement on the implications for the involvement of UK research organisations in EERA.

The UK Government has indicated that it plans to notify the EU Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, but the timing of this official notification is uncertain and will probably not happen until a new Prime Minister is appointed in September, and may be not even then. Under the provisions of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty there will then be a period of up to 2 years during which the terms of the withdrawal will be negotiated.

The UK Research Councils, which fund the UK Energy Research Programme, have asked me to emphasise that the UK currently continues to be a member of the EU and that they are operating business as usual, so there will be no immediate impact on the role of UK organisations in EERA. So I can reassure you on two particular points:

  • first, that UK research inputs to individual JPs will continue; and
  • secondly, that we remain strongly committed to hosting the 2016 EERA Conference in Birmingham in November.

The longer term role of UK research organisations in EERA will clearly depend on the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations. These are currently very uncertain. In particular, we do not know the likely negotiating positions concerning UK involvement in the single market, or in the SET Plan, or in Horizon 2020 and future RTD programmes. Clearly these outcomes will be important for the UK’s role in EERA going forward. I will keep the ExCo updated as things develop.

That is all I can usefully say officially at the moment. I would be happy to answer any questions that I can, but you will appreciate that, at present, the uncertainties are very large.

Nick Eyre

28 June 2016

'Cooperation in energy research does not stop with Brexit', EERA said in a statement dated 24 June. 'EERA expresses its concerns following the UK vote to leave the EU, which causes uncertainty about future, longer-term scenarios of involvement of British universities in EU research programmes. However, as research is without borders and energy a global challenge, cooperation is and will remain the essence of EERA´s mandate and of our work as research organisations. We will support the British members of our community and will keep on working together to develop ideas and solutions to the benefit of all,' they added.