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Funding and Free Movement

With the so-called 'Brexit' vote looming in the UK this week — Britons head to the polls Thursday to decide whether or not to remain in the European Union — Technology Review writes that many scientists see leaving the EU as a threat to research and funding.

Some 83 percent of British scientists oppose leaving the EU, and 159 Fellows of the Royal Society at the University of Cambridge say leaving would be "a disaster for British science," according to Tech Review.

That's in large part because the EU funds a lot of research and the UK gets more back in grants than it pays in: Britain paid €5.4 billion into the EU research budget, but UK researchers received € 8.8 billion in grants, Tech Review notes. "A cut in that funding after Brexit could drag down every field in which British research is prominent — which is most of them," it adds.

Brexit proponents, though, say that UK researchers would be able to participate in EU research under an "association agreement," like Norway, Tunisia, and Switzerland.

However, Tech Review points out that when the Swiss limited the free movement of people, it was dropped from a number of EU research programs. While a temporary measure allows the Swiss some access, Tech Review notes that the EU will require the free movement of people for full association beginning early next year.

"To get an association agreement and EU research funds, Britain would have to agree to free movement of people from the EU, the very thing most Brexiters object to most," Tech Review notes.

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