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EU budget boost secures UK's position as world leader in science

November 28, 2013 11:41 AM
By Julian Huppert MP for Cambridge
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

European Innovation PartnershipsI heard some good news last week. It may not have grabbed the headlines, but the UK economy was given a colossal shot in the arm thanks to the European Union.

Lib Dem MEPs voted last week for an EU budget, which was overall lower - a 6.5 per cent cut - but crucially included a 30 per cent increase in funding for research and innovation. This is important funding, and a clear sign of what can be achieved to help our economic recovery when we are at the heart of the European Union, rather than dithering outside.

It was essential because it will ensure the UK maintains its role as a world leader in science while safeguarding jobs and providing work across the UK.

I've been highlighting for ages, inside and outside parliament, that the UK punches above its weight when it comes to scientific research. Impressively, we make up less than one per cent of the global population, but generate 10 per cent of the world's clinical science and health research outputs.

In and around my Cambridge constituency a world-leading cluster of science and technology businesses generate annual revenue of £13 billion and provide 57,000 jobs. And there is no doubt a key support in this continued success story is our membership of the European Union and the international cooperation it brings.

More than £334 million has found its way from Brussels to universities, labs and research facilities across Cambridgeshire in the last five years. Funding has helped boost high-tech industries and fight killer diseases. Meanwhile, Cambridge has been involved in a £10 billion project to tackle Parkinson's. It is a win for the area and the whole UK economy with every £1 of EU research spending generating an estimated £13 worth of industry added-value.

Lib Dems - as the patriotic party of 'IN' - have been strong in defending this crucial pillar in our economy. We pragmatically looked at the costs and benefits for the UK rather than blindly rejecting any budget for fear of a Eurosceptic backlash.

Last week was an example of what can be achieved to benefit the UK when we are sat at the EU table, rather than ranting from the fringes. We fought for the more constrained EU budget to prioritise jobs and innovation and that is exactly what this deal will deliver.

Julian Huppert is Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge. Follow him on Twitter: @julianhuppert