UK could be locked out of EU quantum research

European Commission to discuss proposals to protect the Union's intellectual property on Good Friday

French internal markets commissioner, Thierry Breton

The UK could potentially be locked out of the European Union's quantum technology research after security concerns were raised under proposals put forward by the European Commission (EC). 

The proposals, which were drafted by the French internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton, suggest that even close allies, such as the UK and Switzerland, presented an unacceptable risk to the EU's intellectual property, according to The Guardian

Under a trade and security deal agreed between the UK and the EU, the former retained the right to pay and participate in the latter's seven-year Horizon European research programme. However, the EC has decided to cut the UK off from certain projects as part of a draft proposal set to be discussed on Good Friday. 

The UK's attempts to break international law over the Northern Ireland border was reportedly raised by the commission as an example of why there is a growing lack of trust between the EU and the UK. 

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"In order to achieve the expected outcomes, and safeguard the Union's strategic assets, interests, autonomy, or security, namely, participation is limited to legal entities established in member states, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein. Proposals including entities established in countries outside this scope will be ineligible," the draft states, according to The Guardian.

It's thought that around 19 member states, such as Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands, have expressed concern over the plans, which have been backed by the French government. The proposals have also drawn criticism from the research community, with the Portuguese Presidency of the EU receiving a letter from a cross-section of academics under the EuroTech Universities Alliance banner.

"The latest proposal by the European Commission to exclude longstanding and trustful partner countries like Switzerland, Israel and the United Kingdom from parts of the research programme is not in the interest of Europe's research community nor the wider society and could be damaging for the international cooperation," the letter states.  

"We are deeply concerned that the exclusion of aligned European countries with a long record of cooperation and excellence in research and innovation from parts of the programme will have negative impacts on European institutions and their capability to develop key digital, enabling, and emerging technologies." 

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