Amid the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, it is perhaps timely to look at one of the less publicised negotiating objectives set out in the Government’s White Paper earlier this year.1 Among the 12 priorities that the UK government will use to negotiate Brexit is that of ensuring the UK remains the best place for science and innovation. ‘We will remain at the vanguard of science and innovation and will seek continued close collaboration with our European partners,’ is the stated objective here.
The White Paper notes the UK’s contribution to cutting-edge research and innovation within the EU: active participation in the Horizon 2020 science programme; a major role in the Galileo satellite navigation and Copernicus satellite remote sensing initiatives, and its commitment to €1.4 billion of funding to the European Space Agency over the next four years. ‘As we exit the EU, we would welcome agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research and technology initiatives,’ it states.
Others, too, are getting their act together to support the Government as negotiations get underway. For example, the Royal Academy of Engineering is co-operating with 37 organisations representing the engineering profession to ensure that the needs of all sectors that have a dependence on engineering are represented and understood. Similarly, the RICS, RIBA, CIOB and RTPI have joined to outline their concerns on six priorities in construction and the built environment on which the Government should focus in its negotiations.2
So isn’t it time for a single voice to represent the geotech sector? Wouldn’t it make sense for the AGI, RGS, SoC, BCS, BARSC, RSPSoc and others to put their heads together to ensure the Government is fully supported in maintaining the UK’s strong presence in Europe?
1. The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union. Cm 9417, February 2017