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Groups of people march on Westminster in protest against Brexit and the Brexit process on March 25, 2017.

More than a year after the United Kingdom voted to remove itself from the European Union, the government aims to preserve or even strengthen ties to the mainland’s science and innovation communities, it argues in a new position paper.

The “future partnership paper” by Her Majesty’s Government says the UK wants a “new, deep and special partnership” – despite Brexit.

“The UK wants Europe to maintain its world-leading role in science and innovation, and will continue playing its part in delivering shared European prosperity,” the paper states. “It is the UK’s ambition to build on its unique relationship with the EU to ensure that together we remain at the forefront of collective endeavors to better understand, and make better, the world in which we live.”

The paper argues that the UK is too important – and the current ties to the EU too strong – to scale back collaboration between the nations.

The UK touts four of the world’s top 10 universities, and a disproportionately great number of Nobel laureates and share of the world’s most highly cited scientific articles in recent years, the government argues in its pitch.

The UK and EU share the same fundamental challenges such as climate change, infectious disease, growth and security, and strengthening developing countries for the stability of all, the paper posits, seemingly for a worldwide audience.

Already the UK collaborates with the rest of Europe in the autonomous agencies EUREKA, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the European Space Agency, and the European Bioinformatics Institute, among others.

Among the EU-driven ventures is Horizon 2020, which is a framework program that makes available €80 billion in funding through 2020. The UK wants to remain a major player as a member state involved in the Horizon 2020 workings, especially since it has the most signed contracts already in the EU (7,360).

Associated EU space programs include the Galileo satellite navigation system, the Copernicus Earth observation program, and the Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) new orbital program looking for space objects.

EU nuclear research includes the Joint European Torus, or JET, fusion project, and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER.

The UK aims to continue to be a driving force in all these programs, and others, the government writes.

“The UK will seek to agree (to) a far-reaching science and innovation agreement with the EU that establishes a framework for future collaboration,” they write. “There are a range of existing precedents for collaboration that the UK and EU can build on, but our uniquely close relationship means there may be merit in designing a more ambitious agreement.”

Whether the EU would unanimously accept the UK collaboration in science – without commensurate cooperation in other economic areas – remains unclear. But one mainland expert quote in the report indicates that the British offerings are too important to turn away.

“The UK has excellent organizations and institutions, e.g. the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Royal College of Physicians,” said Jos van der Meer, of the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. “These institutions have a large arsenal of experts who can be put forward for important committees and boards. In the EU setting, we would miss the UK experts if not available, as they have a lot of quality to offer.”

Some 150 Royal Society scientists warned before the Brexit vote that a UK departure from the EU would lead to a “disaster for science.”

But Prime Minister Theresa May and others have attempted to make the Brexit process preserve some of the stability of years past.

“The UK is leaving the European Union, but it is not leaving Europe,” May has said.

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