- 20 April 2016
The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee published today the results of its enquiry into EU membership and UK science. The Royal Society of Biology (RSB) welcomes publication of this timely report which helps to shed light on the complex and important relationship between EU membership and UK science.
The report builds on a large body of written and oral evidence collected by the Committee over the past few months, from a wide range of organisations including learned societies, universities, research organisations, individual researchers, business groups, and the European Commission; the RSB also submitted a response reflecting views highlighted to us from across the biosciences.
The report highlights the complexity of the relationship between UK science and the EU in the areas of research funding, collaboration, regulation, and scientific advice, and presents some potential post-referendum scenarios.
With regard to research funding in particular, the report acknowledges the difficulty of attempting to balance the impact of all the relevant financial transactions and quotes the view expressed in the RSB's submission to the enquiry that "UK Government and EU funding streams are not readily comparable". However the Lords note that as 18.3% of the funds the UK received from the EU between 2007 and 2013 were used to support science and research, this makes science a significant dimension of the UK's EU membership.
Researcher mobility, an issue raised in the RSB response that was highlighted and confirmed as key by many others, is presented in the Lords' report as an important element of collaboration, alongside collaborative funding and the influence of pan-European research infrastructures.
The relevance and complexity of EU regulations surrounding scientific research have also been recently acknowledged by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, which is currently carrying out an enquiry into the EU regulation of the life sciences. The RSB has also submitted evidence to this enquiry.
Science advice and influence is highlighted as an area in which the UK plays a leading role, including in the development of new Science Advice Mechanism - although the latter is agreed to be in its infancy.