Julie Maxton

Julie Maxton

On Monday 27 February, the Royal Society’s Executive Director, Dr Julie Maxton, welcomed a number of London-based diplomats to the Royal Society.

The purpose of this meeting was to provide a briefing on the Royal Society’s work since the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, and what we are doing to ensure that we achieve the best outcome for science from the negotiations.

One of the Royal Society’s key strategic aims is to foster international and global cooperation. This does not just mean engagement with our international partners around the world, but also our international partners located in the UK. Many embassies here in London have a science attache, diplomats focusing on scientific affairs specifically.

Science is a global endeavour, and as such we want to make sure that we are as networked with our international partners as possible. After all, UK research is international. Approximately 16% of the UK’s academic staff comes from other EU countries, and 36% of postgraduate research students come from outside of the EU.

In the briefing, Julie provided an overview of our work, both before and after the referendum. The Society has an extensive international network – we work with other academies in the UK, academies and networks in the rest of Europe, such as EASAC and ALLEA, and global networks such as IAP and ICSU. The Society is working with the G7 and G20, and is also working with the Commonwealth academies ahead of the Commonwealth Science Conference in June.

We have focused broadly on three themes in our work on UK research and the European Union: funding, mobility and collaboration, and regulation and policy. These three issues were the topics of the three reports we released last year.

Julie detailed the Society’s engagement with Members of Parliament, Government, international partners, and our own engagement with our Fellowship on these issues. For example, we have responded to a number of Parliamentary inquiries on science and the EU and the UK’s place in the world and met with government representatives. We have developed a contact group of Royal Society Fellows to consult on our work in this area, and are participating in Science Minister Jo Johnson MP’s High Level stakeholder working group on EU exit, universities, research and innovation. We are also meeting with a number of our international partners across Europe and around the world.

The resulting Q&A from the event brought up specific concerns about the role of researchers from different EU countries working in the UK. The Society has repeatedly stated that researchers and families from EEA countries should be given assurances that they are able to stay. Other discussion focused on how the UK will engage with the world globally in the future.

The Prime Minister has announced ‘ensuring leadership in science and innovation’ as one of the 12 negotiating proprieties (I blogged on this recently). The Royal Society will continue to work with our partners across Europe and globally to ensure the international and collaborative nature of science and the best outcome from the negotiations.

Please see Dr Julie Maxton’s presentation (PDF)