On 31/01/2020 the United Kingdom has ceased to be a member state of the European Union. Brexit, that had been debated for years, has become reality. A transition period has started on 01/02/2020 and will last until 31/12/2020. What does this mean now?

Until the end of the transition period all EU rules will continue to apply to the United Kingdom. Under the agreement, the UK has promised to meet its payment obligations for the EU budget 2014-2020, allowing British institutions to further participate in EU programmes under the current EU budget cycle. Before the end of the transition period, the EU and the UK have to negotiate an agreement governing their future relations. Failure to do so would revert the UK to the status of a third country on 01/01/2021. An extension of the transitional period is legally possible but has so far been ruled out by the British Prime Minister.

Status quo on Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020:

The UK is the third most popular country of destination for Erasmus students and an important partner in the EU research programme. Ratification of the exit agreement allows UK institutions to continue to participate in Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 until the end of the current programme generation (2014-2020). EU funding for projects under the current generation is secured for their entire duration, including beyond 2020. Only in the case of security-relevant research projects with sensitive data the EU Commission reserves itself the right to terminate the partnership with the United Kingdom prematurely.
Mobility projects under Erasmus+ generally have a duration of two years; projects approved in 2020 will therefore be able to continue until June 2022. Cooperation projects of KA 2 and 3, awarded in 2020, as well as Erasmus Mundus and Jean Monnet activities are equally eligible for EU funding for the entire project duration of two or three years.

Open questions:

At this stage, however, it is unclear if the UK will issue any new rules for the residence of EU citizens in Great Britain as of 2021. This may also affect Erasmus+ students and university staff.
A potential participation of the UK in the new generation of Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe (2021-2027) is still open. A potential association of the UK to the programmes, such as it is currently the case for other third countries, depends on the outcomes of negotiations for a partnership agreement between the EU and the UK. This agreement will probably provide a framework under which programme-specific association agreements could be negotiated.

Current state of the negotiations:

Negotiations are scheduled to start at the beginning of March 2020. The draft negotiating mandate states that the future partnership will also include arrangements for the UK’s participation and funding in EU programmes. Commission President von der Leyen expressed the wish on Brexit Day that in future “as many study exchanges and joint research projects as possible are feasible for young people in the EU and the UK” (to the speech).

Further Information