The science community in the UK “values greatly” Britain’s membership of the EU, Lord Selbourne, the Chair of the Lords Science and Technology told a simposium on science diplomacy, co-hosted by the Academy of Diplomacy and International Governance and the London Diplomatic Science Club.
Lord Selbourne said: “The ease with which talented researchers can move between EU member states; the EU’s fertile environment for research collaboration, the harmonised regulations – this all makes EU membership a highly prized feature of Britain’s research ecosystem.”
He added that EU membership enhanced Britain’s science diplomacy, quoting the FCO’s Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Robin Grimes, who, when giving evidence to the Committee, highlighted the benefits of being able to negotiate as part of an EU block. Professor Grimes said the COP21 negotiations in Paris demonstrated that the EU, by working together, was much more effective in the negotiations than had each country acted independently.
Lord Selbourne stressed that the mobility of researchers was vital to science diplomacy and that ever tightening visa restrictions placed on non-EU scientists, due to concerns about migration, was inhibiting the recruitment which was harming the UK’s competitiveness. “This is an area where the UK is shooting itself in the foot while our many competitors have a much more enlightened policy,” he warned.