One of the more curious arguments from the pro-EU lobby is that UK science will somehow collapse due to lack of funding if we were to leave the political structures of the EU. In order to quickly understand why this argument is flawed, we just need to provide you with a few simple figures. Before doing so, however, it might be worth reminding ourselves that this is not EU money we are talking about, this is UK taxpayer money that has been given to the EU, taxed at a rate of around 60% to support the various mechanisms of the EU and less affluent nations, then stamped with an EU logo before being returned to us.
According to a recent CaSE/EPCEU study (2015), UK science receives a contribution from the EU that equates to around 10% (£260 million in 2013/14) of that derived from UK Research Councils (£2.8 billion in 2013/14). Furthermore, the entire EU research and development budget (for all 28 EU member states) is roughly equivalent to the UK’s annual NET payment to the EU at around £11 billion (ONS figures for 2013). This means that the funding the UK receives back via EU-administered science networks is worth around 2.3% of the UK’s net annual contribution. It’s not rocket science (excuse the pun) to see that the UK could easily plug the funding gap in the event of Brexit, or could even continue to fund its participation in the European Research Council (ERC) should we choose to do so, and would still have many billions to spare, some of which could provide a further boost to UK science.