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Brexit advice for staff involved in research

Information about EU funding, equipment purchasing, data protection, and information security.

EU funding and collaborations

Horizon 2020

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement states that the UK can continue to participate in EU programmes, including Horizon 2020, that are financed by the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) until their closure (i.e. for the lifetime of grants).

UK participants will continue to receive EU grant funding for the lifetime of individual Horizon 2020 projects, including projects starting or finishing after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. More information can be found on the UK Gov website and the UKRI website.

UKRO has also produced a factsheet on Participation in EU Programmes for Research, Innovation and Higher Education.

For the latest information on Horizon 2020 funding, visit the European Commission Website.

Horizon Europe

On 24 December 2020, the EU and UK announced a Trade and Cooperation Agreement outlining the terms of their continued relationship following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

According to the deal, the UK will take part in five EU programmes open to third country participation, including:

  • Euratom
  • ITER (fusion test facility)
  • Copernicus (earth monitoring)
  • the satellite surveillance and tracking (SST) services
  • the EU’s R&I funding programme, Horizon Europe, subject to its financial contribution and the negotiation of terms

The UK will no longer benefit from:

  • regional development and cohesion funding
  • agricultural and rural development support
  • NextGenerationEU
  • the Erasmus+ scheme for student and staff mobility

‘Associate country’ status is understood to be the desired outcome for all parties, which would guarantee many of the same participation rights as EU members and would be based on a GDP-related operational and participation fee.

The EU-UK deal does, however, appear to exclude UK-based companies from applying for related financing from the European Innovation Council fund.

Other EU funding programmes

UKRI has confirmed that if the European Commission stops evaluating UK bids that are submitted to the mono-beneficiary European Research Council, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and SME instrument programmes before EU Exit, UKRI will step in and manage the independent assessment of these proposals. Additional government funding will be made available to support top projects for their duration.

Detailed information can be found on the UKRI website.

Purchasing equipment and materials

Finance and Procurement has produced a set of web pages on purchasing equipment and materials. This included:

  • consumables
  • reagents
  • clinical trials supplies

These cover areas including tendering, lead-in times, supply chain risks, and currency fluctuations.

If you have any questions related to these please contact the relevant Procurement Category Manager.

Data protection and information security

Flow of personal data

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has an interactive tool to help identify what you need to do to maintain the free flow of personal data into the UK from Europe if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Capturing research participants’ personal data from platforms such as Qualtrics

You will be able to capture participants’ personal data from platforms such as Qualtrics. However, the detail will depend on the nature of the data protection statement made at the point of the capture to the participants and the reliance on which exception is used to gather data.

You should also recheck the checks on the platform to ensure that suitable protections including standard contractual clauses are in place.

For more information see the ICO website.

EU and data storage security

From a legal safeguards perspective, the EU is a secure place to store data.

For more information see the ICO website.

Recruiting participants from the EU

You can still recruit participants from the EU if:

  • appropriate exceptions for use of processing data are in place
  • a suitable data protection statement is made explicitly available to the participants
  • appropriate security continues to be applied to the data.

For more information see the ICO website.

Downloading datasets from EU databases such as EMBL

JISC do not expect members to experience disruption in accessing the vast majority of digital resources they currently use. However, some aspects of copyright practice, such as orphan works, are dependent on European directives.

If there is no immediate equivalent to this copyright regime after Brexit, access to a small number of services such as the Spare Rib archive, which they deliver on behalf of the British Library, could be compromised. Likewise, the planned digitisation of some historical resources could be impacted.

See JISC’s website for more information.

Agreements to share research data with EU partners.

Data sharing agreements should already be in place for data sharing partnerships which acts as an appropriate safeguard and the need for the agreements will continue to exist in all Brexit scenarios.

The Government has announced that personal data from the European Union (and EEA) can still flow freely to the United Kingdom, until adequacy decisions have been adopted. This means that UK organisations can receive personal data from the EU (and EEA) without having to make any changes to their data protection practices. Details are available on the ICO website.

This arrangement will last no longer than six months and, as a precaution, UK organisations are encouraged to work with EU / EEA organisations to consider alternative transfer mechanisms. More details are available on the Government website.

Last updated 5 January 2021.

See more general information about GDPR and Brexit.

Clinical trials

From 1 January 2021, you should continue to use existing and established international registers such as ISRCTN registry, or to ensure the public is aware of your trial.

For trials involving both UK and EU sites, a record in the EU Clinical Trials Register will exist (other than adult Phase 1 studies).

Important updates regarding Medical Health and Regulatory Affairs (MHRA) and regulating medical devices post-transition period have been published.