If I say, “Europe gives us a wider horizon” you might think this was a general observation that uniting as a continent, doing things together, helps us see and reach further in the world.
It certainly does but I have in mind a specific horizon: the Horizon 2020 fund. This is €80 billion that the European Union has voted to allocate to scientific research in 2014-20.
A European fund like this means a big opportunity for the UK. We have some of the best universities and other research institutions. They are well placed to apply for grants under this fund. Already South East England universities attract around £1 billion of EU funds and I expect this to now increase. Oxford University is already encouraging its researchers to apply to bring these funds into the UK.
Science and research benefits people’s lives by creating skilled jobs and through the fruits of technology created or improved by these research projects: new medicine, better transport, and more efficient manufacture to name just a few. Horizon 2020 funds are likely to develop nanotechnology, robotics, the bio-economy, space, and environmental protection among many other areas.
Any team of researchers in Europe can bid in the open competitions for Horizon 2020 funds and nothing is earmarked for any member state – if someone can show they can make the best use of the funds, to benefit the public, they get it. This merit-based approach is exactly how the EU, and governance in general, should work.
If UKIP and Conservatives had their way and took us out of the EU we would lose access to apply for these funds. The UK would lose jobs and good researchers would relocate to other countries.
It has always been the Liberal Democrat view that Europe should do things where there is added value in pooling resources. Scientific research is a prime example and it is one reason #whyiamIN.
People who want Britain to be in and the EU to do more like Horizon 2020 should vote Liberal Democrat on 22 May 2014.
* Antony Hook is MEP Candidate for the South East and has practised as a barrister since 2003. His website is here.