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What does Brexit mean for EU funding in the UK? - an update

The Union Jack and EU flag side by side

Thursday 28 July 2016

In the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, we outlined how Brexit may affect the UK’s ability to access EU funding. Understandably, things were very unclear, and many were concerned about the implications this could have to many organisations in the UK.

Since the results of the referendum were announced, the political landscape in the country has changed with Theresa May taking over from David Cameron as Prime Minister on Wednesday, 13 July 2016. Since her appointment, Prime Minister May has made clear her commitment to Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, affirming that 'Brexit means Brexit'. Speaking in Berlin, where she met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Prime Minister did however make it clear that Britain will not begin the process of leaving the EU before the end of 2016. This was again re-iterated during her meeting with Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, where she stated that Britain would not trigger formal divorce talks with the European Union until a "UK approach" had been agreed.

The Prime Minister has created two new cabinet posts that will be central to the process of leaving the EU. David Davis has been appointed to the new post of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and Liam Fox is the new Secretary of State for International Trade. In conjunction with Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, these ministers will play a leading role in future negotiations with the EU.

With Article 50 not likely to be triggered until January 2017 (at the earliest) the UK is unlikely, in theory, to formalise its exit from the EU before January 2019.

What does this mean for EU funding?

Well, essentially our original message still stands. Until the UK formally leaves the EU at the end of the negotiating period, it remains a full member state with no changes. All existing EU funding agreements and arrangements remain valid and in place as long as the UK is still a member of the EU. UK applicants remain eligible for all EU funding available before the referendum, although this will inevitably change after the UK's exit. While new agreements with the EU will likely bring new or amended funding opportunities in the future, UK organisations should seek to maximise their window of opportunity while they remain eligible for EU funds.

With this sentiment in mind, we would advise organisations in Essex not to be discouraged from considering EU funding as a viable option. To help with understanding the fundamentals of this funding programme, why not check out this useful video released by the European Parliament, detailing the basics of how European funding works, and who is eligible to apply.

If you would like more information about how European funding could be of benefit to your organisation, please contact the Funding and Investment Team.

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