The Prime Minister has been warned that paying the EU £750 million to rejoin the bloc’s space programme would be a “bad deal” for Britain.
Following Rishi Sunak’s “decisive breakthrough” on the Northern Ireland Protocol Brexit dispute with the EU, the UK has the opportunity to rejoin Copernicus.
The EU had kicked the UK out of the space programme and stated that it would not be able to rejoin until the dispute was resolved.
While the new Windsor framework allows Britain to re-enter the space infrastructure procurement project, Gabriel Elefteriu, deputy director at the Council on Geostrategy, believes it is not worth the money.
The UK originally agreed to pay a £750million contribution to the programme to access its benefits, which include big contracts on space infrastructure projects and access to data.
But given the two-year delay caused by the political feud with the bloc, many of those benefits have withered away.
Mr Elefteriu said: “The big contracts are gone, return on investment will be very low and the UK has already spent £200million from the £750million earmarked for Copernicus.
“That alone means it needs to renegotiate. It cannot rejoin on the same terms.
“But I think that will be understood within the Copernicus management as the UK is joining two years into the programme. But there are all these problems even if it does decide to rejoin.”
Rather than entering new negotiations over new terms, Mr Elefteriu said that it could be wiser to avoid rejoining the programme altogether.
He said: “I urge would the UK not to (rejoin). There are too many problems. One is the fact that it would get very little value for money. The value has been declining dramatically ever since the EU decided to build contracts without us.