Plant & Works Engineering

House of Lords publishes report on EU membership and UK science

Published:  17 May, 2016

A new report, launched by the UK House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, indicates that the UK science and engineering community places great value on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

The Committee concluded that the UK plays a leading role in the development of EU policies and decision-making processes that relate to science and research.

It also considered science as a significant dimension of the UK’s membership of the EU. Just under one fifth (18.3%) of the funds the UK received from the EU during 2007-2013 were used to support science and research.

However, the report also acknowledges that even those who are most in favour of continued EU membership criticised aspects of the UK’s relationship to it. In the event that the UK chooses to remain part of the EU, there would be scope for Government to advance reforms to enhance the interactions between the EU and UK science and research.

The report comes less than a month after the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) released results of its own EU membership survey. Collating responses from over 1000 members revealed that 75% of those surveyed were in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.

The IChemE UK Research Committee, and other witnesses, put to the Committee that one of the most significant aspects of the UK’s EU membership is the provision of opportunities to collaborate. The report concludes that the EU to has three main influences on science and engineering: the provision of collaborative funding schemes and programmes; ensuring researcher mobility; and facilitating and fostering participation in shared pan-European research infrastructures.

IChemE’s UK Research Committee contributed to this report and echoes its findings. Professor Raffaella Ocone, chair of the IChemE UK Research Committee and Chair of Chemical Engineering, Heriot-Watt University said: "Successful research and its impact upon innovation, relies strongly on successful collaborations. Our chemical engineering research community will continue to flourish only if the flow of knowledge and talents between the UK, the EU and the rest of the world is maintained and opportunities for sustained collaborations are strengthened."