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In the event of leaving the EU without a deal or transition period, there would be no change in the existing arrangements for beneficiaries of current EU-funded projects.
This applies to all aspects of managing the projects including the submission and payment of claims, verification checks and, importantly, retention of relevant records.
Beneficiaries will also continue to use WEFO Online to submit and update information.
A Statutory Instrument has been laid in Parliament which will ensure that where there are references to the ESIF regulations in Funding Agreements signed before exit, the provisions that affect the rights and obligations of Managing Authorities and beneficiaries towards each other remain binding even after exit, providing a stable legal framework for beneficiaries.
To that end, existing regulations in respect of Structural Funds will be transferred directly into UK law by a Statutory Instrument. Together with a revised grant offer letter from WEFO referring to this SI instead of existing regulations, this will ensure the existing rights and obligations of all parties remain unchanged.
HM Treasury has guaranteed funding all projects approved under the 2014 – 2020 ERDF and ESF programmes by December 2020. WEFO will only draw on this guarantee in respect of claims that are not paid by the European Commission. At this stage we can not say if or when this situation may arise, so the current arrangements stay in place unless and until it does.
Organisations currently discussing potential projects can safely continue to develop plans in discussion with WEFO. The HM Treasury guarantee will support programme expenditure within the normal course of business for the current programmes.
This “normal course of business” limit on the HM Treasury guarantee means that the current deadline of 31 December 2023 for programme delivery remains unchanged. (In practice, the large majority of projects will have been completed before then.)
The UK government’s priority remains ensuring that the draft Withdrawal Agreement is finalised and concluded which would ensure that UK organisations’ right to participate in Horizon 2020 will be unaffected.
In the event of no deal, the UK government has guaranteed to underwrite the EU funding for UK organisations participating in all approved Horizon 2020 projects or notified of the success of their bid.
This funding guarantee has also been extended beyond the date of exit to enable UK organisations to continue to participate in Horizon 2020 programmes that are open to third country participation.
However, in a no-deal scenario, UK organisations would not be eligible to participate in Horizon 2020 programmes such as the European Research Council, some of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and the SME Instrument, which are not open to third country participants.
Current UK recipients of Horizon 2020 funding are invited to provide data about their projects on a portal managed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The portal is designed to ensure that UKRI has the information about projects and participants in order to make guarantee payments if required.
WEFO is the Managing Authority for the Ireland–Wales Co-operation programme. The UK Government Funding Guarantee was extended in July 2018 to provide further stability for UK organisations in a no-deal scenario. The Guarantee for ETC programmes, including Ireland-Wales, now covers the full 2014-2020 programme period.
This means that grant funding to UK beneficiaries in respect of all projects approved on a competitive basis before the end of the programming period is now guaranteed.
However, in the event of a no-deal scenario, the UK’s departure from the EU would mean UK organisations may be unable to formally participate in ETC projects after exit day.
The UK government will have to work with other parties such as the European Commission to ensure that continued participation for UK organisations in ETC programmes is possible and the UK can respond to new calls and continue to deliver projects.
WEFO is working with the UK Government and the other Devolved Administrations as a priority to ensure UK partners can continue in ETC programmes. However, without access to programmes, there is a risk that project partners may not be able to continue working with their counterparts in other member states. Similarly, UK organisations may also not be able to continue applying to ETC programmes after the UK leaves the EU. If so, the UK Government will provide full details on what to do to individual project partners.
Following Brexit, the rules about how personal data flows between the EU and the UK will change. Visit the Information Commissioner’s website to find out more about how these changes will affect you or your organisation.