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Britain's decision to leave the EU will have an impact on the development of the bio-economy in terms of international R&D-programs. Overall, the transition towards a European bio-economy will not be hindered.
Editorial office / Brussels

Adrian Higson (NNFCC) expresses his discontent with the decision to leave. ‘As an organisation with a history of successful collaboration with European partners, we are disappointed. The Union provided a strong mechanism for the transnational cooperation required to solve today’s global challenges including climate change and food security. We would like to reaffirm our belief that the development of the bio-economy is central to solving these challenges.’

Higson furthermore states that NNFCC will press the UK Government to take an active role in the European development of the bioeconomy and support the transnational collaboration required for technical innovation, value chain creation and market development. ‘We will continue to work with our European partners to deliver our ongoing programs and will continue to actively seek opportunities for further European collaborations.’

Special blow

Christian Patermann, former DG Research and still actively involved in the bio-economy, is equally disappointed with the Brexit and its implications for international cooperation in the field of R&D: ‘Brexit is not only a loss for Europe, it is a special blow to cooperation in European science, research and innovation. With respect to the bio-economy in Europe, Britain’s official standpoint was not that clear. Contrary to a growing number of EU and non EU-States, UK had not started to work on a national strategy or action plan on the bio-economy. There were however isolated bioeconomical developments in the area of fuels, agroecology, food and combatting animal diseases, based on the usual strengths and competences of British science. This is different in Scotland, for example with its road map on biorefining or the Master-program offered by the University of Glasgow.’

Short term no impact

Dirk Carrez, executive director of the Biobased Industries Consortium, does not expect – on a short term – any impact for UK-based companies and universities on their possible participation in BBI JU and Horizon2020-calls. ‘The negotiations to realize the Brexit will take several years, and will probably become concrete as of 2019. On the longer term – and that will be part of the negotiations – the UK could become, just like Switzerland, Iceland or Norway, a so-called “Associated Country”. Legal entities from Associated Countries can participate under the same conditions as legal entities from the Member States. Association to Horizon 2020 (and BBI JU) takes place through the conclusion of an International Agreement.’