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The EU’s Horizon Europe research and innovation framework programme
14 September 2021
Modified: 14 September 2021
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Horizon Europe, the European Union’s seven-year research and innovation framework programme for the period between 2021 and 2027, will be launched in May this year with a budget of EUR 95.5 billion. The European Union’s new framework programme, the most ambitious ever, will provide 30% more funding than the previous Horizon 2020 programme to support European research excellence and breakthrough innovation and address key societal challenges.

Horizon Europe is an integral continuation of Horizon 2020, the framework programme of the previous seven-year cycle, but it adds a number of new elements:

  • impact-oriented cluster programmes that encourage cooperation across sectors and technologies;
  • missions to address key societal challenges;
  • strategic initiatives co-financed by the EU, Member States and industry, the European Partnerships.

Focus will be brought to the need to deliver immediate social or economic benefits and to promote the green and digital transition. 35% of the framework programme budget will be used in relation to climate change objectives.

The structure of the framework programme is summarised in the figure below:

Horizon Europe - 3 pillares

The Excellent Science pillar aims to boost the EU’s global scientific competitiveness. The European Research Council supports cross-border research projects proposed and carried out by the best researchers through its programmes, funds fellowships for experienced researchers through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, supports doctoral training networks, researcher exchange programmes and career development for young researchers, and invests in world-class research infrastructures.

The Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness pillar supports research on societal challenges and strengthens technological and industrial capacities through clusters. EU missions have set ambitious targets to tackle major societal challenges (e.g., climate change, cancer research, soil health). It also includes the activities of the Joint Research Centre, which provides scientific analysis and technical assistance to EU and national decision-makers.

The Innovation Europe pillar aims to improve Europe’s position in supporting market-creating innovations through the European Innovation Council programmes. The pillar will also support the development of the European innovation environment through the development of European innovation ecosystems and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, which will help integrate the knowledge triangle of education, research and innovation.

The Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area parts of the programme will support EU Member States’ efforts to maximise national research and innovation potential, strengthen the capacity of countries with weaker research and innovation performance (widening countries) and create a European Research Area where researchers, scientific knowledge and technology can flow freely. As a result of political discussions during the preparation of the Framework Programme, the resources for the Widening Actions have been increased to 3.3% of the Horizon Europe budget.

Introduced as a new instrument of Horizon Europe, the missions aim to achieve spectacular results in addressing major societal challenges within given timeframes by coordinating EU, national, regional resources and programmes, as well as sectoral policies. Emphasis is placed on involving as wide a range of stakeholders as possible in the design and implementation of missions. The planned missions are grouped around the following social challenges:

Horizon Europe - missions

The budget of the Horizon Europe programme (in billion euros)

Pillar I - “Excellent science”: EUR 25 billion of which

European Research Council (ERC) EUR 16 Bn
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions EUR 6,6 Bn
Research infrastructures EUR 2,4 Bn

Pillar II - “Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness”: EUR 53,5 Bn, of which:

1. “Health” cluster EUR 8,2 Bn
2. “Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society” cluster EUR 2,3 Bn
3. “Civil security for society” cluster EUR 1,6 Bn
4. “Digital, Industry and Space” cluster EUR 15,35 Bn
5. “Climate, energy and mobility” cluster EUR 15,35 Bn
6. “Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment” cluster EUR 15,1 Bn
Joint Research Centre (JRC) EUR 1,97 Bn

Pillar III - “Innovative Europe”: EUR 13,6 Bn of which:

European Innovation Council (EIC) EUR 10,1 Bn
European innovation ecosystems EUR 0,5 Bn
European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) EUR 3 Bn

“Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area”: EUR 3.4 billion of which

Widening participation and spreading excellence EUR 2,96 Bn
Reforming and improving the European research and innovation system EUR 0,44 Bn
Updated: 14 September 2021
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