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Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the ambitious €100 billion research and innovation programme (2021-2027) that will succeed Horizon 2020. Below we give a brief overview of what is known thus far.


A Europe that protects, empowers and defends

  • A sustainable, fair and prosperous future for people and planet based on European values.


  • Tackling climate change (35% of the budget will be spend on this)
  • Helping to achieve sustainable developmental goals
  • Boosting EU competitiveness and growth


  • Strengthening the EU's scientific and technological bases and the European Research Area (ERA)
  • Boosting Europe's innovation capacity, competitiveness and jobs
  • Delivering on citizens' priorities and sustain Europe's socio-economic model and values

Current status

In April 2019, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament reached a political agreement on the programme on the basis of which the Commission has started preparing Horizon Europe’s implementation. As part of the preparation process, the European Commission has launched an online consultation on the future objectives for EU-funded research and innovation.  You can help shape the priorities of the Horizon Europe programme by completing this consultation (open until 8 September 2019). The inputs received will inform the work to prepare a ‘Strategic Plan’ for Horizon Europe, which will guide the work programmes and calls for proposals for Horizon Europe’s first four years (2021-2024). A second consultation is launched on the implementation of Horizon Europe (open until 15 September 2019). This will serve as input for how Horizon Europe will be managed in practice. You can share your views here.

Timeline KP9
Adoption timeline for Horizon Europe

What stays the same?

As in Horizon 2020, the proposal for the structure of Horizon Europe contains three pillars, as well as a cross-cutting part.

Structure KP9
Preliminary structure of Horizon Europe

Pillar 1: Excellent Science

  • European Research Council (ERC): Frontier research by the best researchers and their teams
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (ITN, IF, RISE, COFUND): Investing in the people behind R&I, delivering talent and improving careers
    • mobility of researchers
    • training of researchers
    • strengthening human capital across the ERA
    • facilitating synergies
    • promoting public outreach
  • Research Infrastructures: Integrated and inter-connected world-class research infrastructures

Pillar 2: Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness

  • Six clusters of intervention areas implemented through calls, missions and partnerships
    1. Health
    2. Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society
    3. Civil Security for Society
    4. Digital, Industry and Space
    5. Climate, Energy and Mobility
    6. Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment

Pillar 3: Innovative Europe

  • European Innovation Council: Support to innovations with breakthrough and market creating potential
  • European innovation ecosystems: Connecting with regional and national innovation actors
  • European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT): Bringing key actors (research, education and business) together around a common goal for nurturing innovation


  • Widening participation and spreading excellence, including:
    • Twinning and teaming actions
    • COST Actions
    • Brain circulation
  • Reforming and enhancing the European R&I system, including: 

    • Open Science
    • Citizen Science
    • Responsible Research and Innovation
    • Gender equality
    • Attractive researcher careers

What is new?

There are several novelties in Horizon Europe, including the introduction of missions and an European Innovation Council for supporting breakthrough innovation, and a new approach to European R&I partnerships.

Novelties 1 KP9
Key novelties in Horizon Europe


By addressing important societal challenges, such as cancer and climate change, through ambitious but realistic research and innovation activities, they will make clear to citizens how the EU can make a real difference in their lives and in society as a whole. They boost the impact of EU-funded research and innovation by mobilising investment and EU wide efforts around measurable and time-bound goals around issues that affect citizens’ daily lives.

The current five broad mission areas are:

  1. Adaptation to Climate Change including Societal Transformation
  2. Cancer
  3. Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters
  4. Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities
  5. Soil Health and Food

Specific missions will be programmed within Pillar 2, Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness, as portfolios of actions across disciplines intended to achieve a bold and inspirational and measurable goal within a set timeframe. By the end of 2019, the mission boards will identify the first possible specific missions, with a concrete target and timeline.

European Innovation Council

The European Innovation Council (EIC) will help innovators to create markets of the future, leverage private finance and scale up their companies (70% of the budget is earmarked for SMEs).

Two complementary instruments bridge the gap from idea to investable project:

  • EIC Pathfinder (grants): from early technology to pre-commercial
  • EIC Accelerator (grants only & blended finance): from pre-commercial to market & scale-up

A new approach to European partnerships

In an effort to further rationalise the funding landscape, a new generation of objective-driven and more ambitious partnerships in support of agreed EU policy objectives will be implemented, either as:

  • Co-programmed partnerships: based on Memoranda of Understanding / contractual arrangements, and implemented independently by the partners and by Horizon Europe
  • Co-funded partnerships: based on a joint programme agreed and implemented by partners, with commitment of partners for financial and in-kind contributions.
  • Institutionalised partnerships: based on long-term dimension and need for high integration (e.g., partnerships based on Articles 185 / 187 and EIT KICs).