Aug 11, 2015
The objective of this study was to examine existing evidence about the effect of EU membership on health research in the UK and to develop a conceptual approach for assessing the costs and benefits of membership. The first phase of work was to establish the background and context of the issue through a rapid evidence assessment of literature. The second phase was to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the research inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes for UK health research. This framework was then discussed, amended and validated through a small number of scoping interviews with UK health researchers and funders across different health subject areas with varying degrees of experience of EU-funded health research. The final phase of work was to develop future scenarios for UK health research looking at different possible arrangements between the UK and the EU and to analyse each scenario to judge how the current strengths of the UK health research system could be preserved should there be any change in the UK's current membership of the EU. UK health research benefits from EU support through funding (the UK is a net recipient of support relative to population size), 'softer' elements such as skills and labour, and access to collaborative networks, and wider strategic value from European engagement. The impact of the UK withdrawing from EU membership is difficult to assess as it would depend greatly upon the terms and conditions of any such change.
Contextualising the debate on UK health research on the EU
The future of UK health research under different EU membership scenarios