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CaSE discussion forum on science, engineering and Brexit

25 Aug 2016

CaSE Policy Fellow, Anusha Panjwani, highlights shared intelligence, planned activities and priorities, from CaSE’s EU Discussion forum, ahead of EU negotiations.

In light of the changing European landscape of science and engineering, last week CaSE convened a discussion forum to share intelligence and planned activities, as well as to identify shared priorities in the science and engineering sector ahead of the EU negotiations. The event was attended by 45 people representing academia, industry, charity and professional bodies. The event was kindly hosted by Imperial College London.

Theresa May has stated she is committed to achieving a positive outcome for science as we exit the European Union. The first session involved discussing the headline priorities for organisations that will need to be addressed if we are to secure a positive outcome for science and engineering in EU negotiations. Some of the common denominators emerging from discussion included access, retention and easy movement of people, access to collaborative networks and funding, effective regulations and standards. The forum also provided an opportunity for organisations to share their plans for communications with their membership and key people in the form of workshops, specific briefings for local MPs, position statements, responding to parliamentary inquiries, and establishing internal EU working groups to prepare inputs to government and parliament.

CaSE is keen to work in partnership and to point to detailed work happening within specific sectors that are included within our broad membership. The forum provided an opportunity to hear from some of these groups including universities, life sciences, the engineering profession and farming. We heard that there are some sector specific activities and priorities, and yet it was encouraging to hear the extent of shared priorities in key areas. The second session provided an opportunity to break into groups and go into these priority areas in more depth.

We separated into four groups by theme:

  • Regulation and legislation

  • Funding

  • Collaboration and programmes

  • Talent

This session provided an opportunity to consider the risks and opportunities leaving the EU presents in each area. Uncertainty, extreme divergence from current regulations, barriers to trade and markets, dropping levels of investment in science and research, were some of the identified risks. Leaving the EU also presents some opportunities. Using Brexit as a chance to adapt existing regulations, increasing international engagement and using the UK to test innovative ideas were some of the opportunities discussed by member organisations and key collaborators. The groups also considered what questions do we as a sector need to answer to prepare for negotiations and what data or evidence we will need to collect or collate.

There was round table agreement on the importance of careful messaging that the UK is “open for business”, developing approaches to ensure sectoral priorities are in synergy with industrial strategy and developing a functional immigration system necessary for a thriving sector.

This was a useful platform for all attendees to identify shared priorities, challenges, risks and opportunities in the period of developing EU negotiations. The discussion has also been used to feed into CaSE’s submission to parliamentary inquires on the implications of leaving the EU on science and research.

CaSE is preparing a more complete unattributed summary of the event to circulate to participants and all CaSE members which we hope will be helpful as individual organisations consider their own activities and priorities. CaSE will be working hard to ensure science and engineering is on the table in the Brexit negotiations and that the outcome of the negotiations and domestic policy work together to deliver a positive outcome for science.