Championing the benefits of science
Now, more than ever, as the UK government begins the parliamentary process to leave the EU, we must make clear that international collaboration in science is essential. We must work together to understand and articulate how these changes will affect the chemical sciences community and champion the benefits science brings to society more broadly.
Our ongoing commitment to international science is reflected through our global activities. In the last six months we have announced that we are hosting the 7th EuCheMS Chemistry Congress in August 2018, continuing to fund researchers to travel to and from the UK to foster collaborations, and supporting teachers in India and analytical scientists in Africa.
As a scientist, I am heartened by the UK government’s recent announcement that its negotiating objectives for leaving the EU include science and innovation explicitly, confirming their role in underpinning growth across the UK, and that this commitment is also explicit in the ambitious industrial strategy.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s intention to “welcome agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research and technology initiatives” reinforces the recognition of science and innovation as a negotiating priority, which is a positive first step. I will ensure we continue to work to influence aspects of the negotiations relevant to our community.
We continue to share key policy proposals with UK policymakers, based on our three priorities for UK government:
- Easy movement of skilled scientists, and of students, to and from the UK.
- Ensuring access to international research and development funding programmes and infrastructure and, crucially, the associated collaboration opportunities.
- Regulation that achieves a balance between nurturing innovation, protecting the environment and human health, and enabling the UK to trade internationally.
We outlined these in our recent responses to the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee inquiry into The UK’s Negotiating Objectives for Withdrawal from the EU (opens as a pdf), and the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into The Future of Chemicals Regulation after the EU Referendum.
We are working closely with our colleagues in other organisations to send clear joint messages to the UK government from the scientific community. I signed a letter in December calling on the government to ensure its future immigration policies enable international mobility and collaboration. The letter was referenced by MPs the day after it was published, during a Commons Chamber debate on ‘Exiting the EU and Science and Research’.
Other learned societies, businesses and universities also signed the letter and we continue to work together with our partners to develop joint proposals, materials and events that will engage the government on how to ensure we get the best outcome for science as the UK leaves the EU. We will share these with you as they develop.
Your perspectives and experiences continue to be vital to building our case on behalf of the chemical sciences. They help build a narrative for policymakers, that shows the impact of, and opportunities presented by, exiting the EU – both for individuals and for organisations and companies.
Now, more than ever, we want to keep the doors to international collaboration open. Please get in touch with us, using the email form on the left of this page, to share your perspectives and experiences. You may have facts and figures to add to our evidence supporting our three priorities for the UK government, or make suggestions about how your Royal Society of Chemistry can most successfully be the trusted and authoritative voice for the chemical sciences.