The EU is the world’s biggest research powerhouse, but some of its research is funded by the US and Britain.
One of the most controversial parts of this funding is the European Research Council, or ERC, which was set up in 2005 to provide funding for universities in Europe.
ERC funding is controversial because it allows countries to claim up to £1 billion in grants for research.
The US and UK have long claimed that ERC grants are a backdoor way for the EU to keep control over its own science.
Critics argue that they are designed to give EU countries a competitive edge and to keep research funding out of the hands of the US.
But US officials have repeatedly insisted that the ERC is not an arms dealer.
In 2013, the White House released a list of research projects funded by ERC funds, which included “research on the future of the nuclear power industry”, “research to address the global health crisis”, and “research aimed at addressing the economic and social challenges of climate change”.
So why is the EU so worried?
One reason is that ERS grants are tied to EU regulations, which require that they be “freely and effectively disseminated” across all EU member states.
These rules also require that the money be subject to oversight.
And, of course, there is also a growing concern that the US is using ERS to undermine European laws, such as those relating to environmental protection.
“Ers [funding] is part of the global agenda of US policy-making, particularly as it relates to climate change,” says Christopher Durney, a research fellow at the Center for European Reform, a think tank in Brussels.
“It’s very hard for the US to have its own agenda, which has a very different political orientation, and to be able to get funding from the Ers to do it.”
ERS was established as part of a European treaty that went into force in 1991, and has been renewed every five years since.
It gives the EU around £2 billion a year in EU-funded research and development funding.
EU science policy expert Andreas Geertsen believes that the EU is not doing enough to ensure that funding for scientific research is properly managed and that Ers funding has been used to undermine EU laws.
“There’s an imbalance between the political agenda of the EU and the actual scientific research agenda that’s actually happening,” he told BBC News.
“The US has a different political agenda than the European one.”
What does the EU say about this?
The EU has repeatedly said that it will “reserve all EU funds for scientific and technological research that advances the public good”.
In 2015, the European Commission published a report, “The Future of Science in the European Union: A roadmap to a stronger future”, which recommended that the Commission “strengthen EU policies and policies, to promote European scientific and research policy”.
It said that the budget for science and technology should be allocated in a “balanced and transparent way” so that research is “based on science and research knowledge, which is the basis of the development of innovative technologies and the creation of economic and societal benefits”.
The Commission’s report also suggested that the European research council “would have the power to allocate funding for the most advanced and important projects, in accordance with its own policies and with a transparent approach”.
What about US policies?
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that European scientists should be “bought off”.
In March 2017, Trump tweeted that the United States should “immediately” withdraw its funding for EU research, and he has even proposed “a tax on the companies that are moving their headquarters overseas”.
In February, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “the U.S. will have to look at whether to make significant investments in EU research”.
“The EU should not be the US’s main partner in science and innovation, and should not continue to have the role that the U.K. does,” Pompeo added.
But Ers chief executive Martin Schulz has been criticised for saying that “it’s impossible to find the best, the most promising, the brightest people in the world”.
“It has to be about finding the most efficient and effective ways to spend the money,” he said.
“That means investing in new and innovative technologies that will make life better for all Europeans.”
Schulz said that if the ERS funds were not properly managed, the EU would have to “take its fate into its own hands”.
What does this mean for US research?
Some scientists are worried about how US research will impact the future development of the science of climate, for example, or the use of renewable energy.
One recent example is a US project called Renewable Energy Research and Development.
The project is funded entirely by the Eres grant, but the US National Science Foundation (NSF) is the main funder.
So if Ers grants are not properly monitored and controlled, the US could