The title of the inquiry is ‘Relationship between EU membership and UK science inquiry’, so we are deeply concerned that all of the questions and preamble of the inquiry are on matters that are not contingent upon the UK’s membership of the EU.
Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, Iceland and Israel are all non-EU nations that participate in and contribute towards the science networks operated via the EU.
Norway, Switzerland and Turkey have all been represented on the governing bodies of the ERA, either in the Scientific Council which currently governs the work of the ERA or its forerunner the European Research Area Board (ERAB). European scientists within the ERA rightly see the benefit of ensuring that scientific cooperation is done openly and is not exclusive to political membership. It is within this environment that the UK’s participation in EU science networks would continue if the UK were to leave the EU.
Therefore, it is essential for us to say with regret that the House of Lords inquiry appears to be premised on a fallacy in this respect. The nature of the inquiry’s title points to EU membership while the preamble and questions (about the funding, collaboration, regulation and advice) point to a discovery of the merits of science cooperation which is not contingent on membership.
It is clear that the inquiry is written and designed in such a way that an assessment of the UK’s science relationship with the EU is intended to inform the currently live debate about whether the UK remains a member of the EU. It would be a serious mistake for anyone to connect the two.
In a tweet yesterday, Scientists for Britain pointed out:
Recent oral testimony includes some from Dame Julia Slingo of the Marshes who says:
I am the Chief Scientist at the Met Office and also a member of the High Level Group for the new European Commission Scientific Advice Mechanism. The Met Office, as I am sure you know, is one of the world’s leading weather and climate services, but also embodies a very significant research activity in weather and climate science, numbering some 550 scientists under my direction. We benefit enormously from our international collaborations, both in services and science, and particularly important European networks which sustain our services and contribute quite significantly to our research base. We have a long history of international co-operation and I would say that EU funding, particularly over the last decade, has been incredibly beneficial to the advancement of our science so we can provide improved services not just in the UK but across the world.