UK PM Sunak authorises officials to strike Horizon science deal with EU - Bloomberg

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak walks outside 10 Downing Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) -British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has given the go-ahead for his officials to finalise a deal allowing Britain to re-join the European Union’s Horizon scientific research program, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Under a trade agreement signed at the end of 2020, Britain had negotiated access to a range of science and innovation programmes, including Horizon - a 95.5 billion euro ($97 billion) programme that offers research grants and projects.

But it was locked out of Horizon as a result of a tit-for-tat dispute over how the Brexit agreement was being implemented.

London and Brussels settled their dispute over post-Brexit trade rules governing Northern Ireland in February, and the UK has since been negotiating with the EU over rejoining Horizon.

The report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said a deal could be announced as soon as this week, as only minor details remained to be ironed out.

Britain's science ministry was not immediately available for comment. Sunak's office declined to comment on speculation.

Britain had also announced Pioneer, a British research funding programme launched in April in case talks on rejoining Horizon failed, but many British research scientists had been keen for a return to Horizon.

In July, Britain denied a BBC report that it was ready to rejoin Horizon.

(Reporting by William James, Alistair Smout and Andrew MacAskill, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)