There has been some relief for British businesses following a recent announcement by HM Treasury. Among the plethora of issues surrounding the thorny Brexit debate, business leaders were expressing (justifiable) concern over the status of EU funding – both in the run up to, and following the departure of the UK from the European Union.
The announcement confirmed that organisations which are successfully awarded EU funding will have that funding guaranteed by the UK government beyond the date of the UK’s departure from the EU. As long as certain conditions are met, of course.
The basis of any decision is somewhat vague at present, but the terminology used by the Treasury suggests that funds will be guaranteed where the project represents ‘good value for money’ and is ‘in line with domestic strategic priorities’. The key difference in this latest announcement is over timing. Previously it was understood that such funding would only be guaranteed on awards made before the 2016 Autumn Statement, but Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed that funding awards made up until the UK leaves the Union will be similarly guaranteed.
Inevitably, there will be some discussion over what ‘good value’ means and what the ‘strategic priorities’ are, and the commitment by the Government only covers the four main EU funding streams of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the European Social Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, and the European Regional Development Fund. Nevertheless, the news is bound to offer some comfort to British businesses.
The same statement confirmed that UK universities receiving funding under the EU’s €80billion ‘Horizon 2020’ research and innovation programme would also be guaranteed, even for those projects that weren’t due to conclude until after the date of Brexit.
While this may seem like a temporary reprieve, and doesn’t extend to all forms of EU funding, it will be seen as a significant improvement on what may have been anticipated prior to the announcement, and means that businesses and academia alike can plan for Brexit over an extended period, allowing strategic plans to be modified and funding to be deployed in accordance with these plans to smooth the transition.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.