The European Union has walked back an attempt to bar some non-EU nations from access to quantum computing and space projects. A major new round in the €95.5 billion Horizon Europe funding program announced today will allow some non-EU countries to join such projects—but the European Union will seek special “assurances” to guarantee its interests will be protected.
Horizon Europe launched in February with calls for curiosity-driven basic research proposals from the European Research Council. But details of themed calls that specify subject areas, which account for the majority of the budget, were not published until today because of a monthslong dispute over who can join them.
The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, had wanted to bar the United Kingdom, Israel, Switzerland, and several other countries from participating in dozens of quantum computing and space projects, which it believes to be of strategic importance to the European Union. But a coalition of EU member states, led by Germany, pushed back, arguing to include “associate” countries that pay for full access to EU research programs. The United Kingdom struck such a deal last year, whereas Switzerland and Israel hope to renew the association agreements they had for Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe’s predecessor.