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Proposal for the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation "Horizon Europe" published

07. Jun 2018

On 7 June 2018, the European Commission has published its proposal for Horizon Europe, the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2021-2027). The proposed budget allocation includes €94.1 billion under Horizon Europe and €2.4 billion for the Euratom Research and Training Programme. The legislative package of Horizon Europe consists of the respective Regulation (including the Rules for Participation), and the Specific Programme.

Programme Structure

Horizon Europe will be based on three pillars: Open Science, Global Challenges & Industrial Competiveness, and Open Innovation, complemented by an additional fourth programme area “Strengthening the European Research and Innovation Area”.

The Open Science pillar (€25.8 billion) will support frontier research through the European Research Council (€16.6 billion), funds fellowships and exchanges for researchers through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (€6.8 billion), and invests in research infrastructures (€ 2.4 billion).

The Global Challenges and Industrial Competiveness pillar (€52.7 billion) will support research relating to societal challenges, technological and industrial capacities, and sets the basis for EU-wide missions aiming to tackle bold and ambitious goals with a high societal relevance. It also includes activities pursued by the Joint Research Centre (€2.2 billion). The thematic priorities in this pillar will be organised through the following clusters

  • Health: €7.7 billion
  • Inclusive & Secure Society: €2,8 billion
  • Digital & Industry: €15 Mrd. billion
  • Climate, Energy & Mobility: €15 billion
  • Food & Natural Resources: €10 billion

According to the proposal, Research and Innovation missions will be decided and co-designed as part of the Horizon Europe strategic planning process, which will include a collaborative effort by Commission departments, Member States, the European Parliament and stakeholders. According to the proposal, Horizon Europe will not have a separate budget for missions, though missions will have a budget assigned through the work programmes. Missions are normally expected to be cross-cutting in nature and should therefore receive their budget from more than one cluster. In addition, the Commission proposes to set up possible future FET Flagships under Horizon Europe as missions applying the respective criertia and modalities.

The Open Innovation pillar (€13.5 billion) aims to support market-creating innovation via the European Innovation Council (€10 billion). In addition, this pillar also covers the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT, €3 billion).

The main components of the “Strengthening the European Research Area” part (€ 2.1 billion) are “sharing excellence” (€1.7 billion); and “reforming and enhancing the European R&I system” (€400 million), also covering the next generation Policy Support Facility.

Cross-cutting elements

Open Science: The Commission proposes to establish the principle of open science as the “modus operandi” of the Horizon Europe. This will go beyond the current open access policy of Horizon 2020 and will require an increased open access to publications and data (with robust opt-outs for the latter).

Partnerships: According to the proposal, the current and rather diverse landscape of European partnerships instruments (e.g. ERA-NETs, JPIs, P2Ps, etc.) should be rationalised and further aligned with the specific objectives of Horizon Europe. The areas for partnerships, including the possible continuation of existing ones, will be identified during a so-called strategic planning process. Under the new umbrella term "European Partnerships", there will be three levels of partnerships:

  • co-programmed, based on memoranda of understanding or contractual arrangements
  • co-funded, based on a single, flexible programme co-fund action
  • institutionalised partnerships (based on Articles 185 or 187 TFEU, and the EIT Regulation for the Knowledge and Innovation Communities)

Rules for Participation: The Rules for Participation will bring a wide continuity of Horizon 2020 provisions. The proposed modifications comprise i.a. more extensive possibilities for third country association (Art. 12) as well as an additional minimum criterion for eligible consortia (Art. 18, in addition to the requirement of a minimum of three partners from different Member States of Associated Countries, at least one partner must in future be established in a Member State). Moreover, the provisions reflect new or reinforced elements, such as the EIC, synergies between different EU programmes or lump sum funding.
Digital Europe: On 6 June, the European Commission has also published its proposals for the programmes InvestEU, Connecting Europe Facility, EU Space as well as Digital Europe. The latter, Digital Europe, is an entirely new programme focussing on capacity building and deployment in key areas of digital transformation such as Artificial Intelligence, Supercomputing, Cybersecurity and digital skills. The European Commission proposes a total budget of €9.2 billion (2021-2017) for Digital Europe.

Timeline and process

Framework Programmes are adopted jointly by the Council and the European Parliament (EP) under the ordinary legislative procedure (Art. 182 TFEU). Discussions in the Council and Parliament are expected to start upon the publication of the Commission's legislative proposals. The Austrian Council Presidency (second half of 2018) intends to reach a "partially general approach" between member states on the legal package of Horizon Europe already at the Competitiveness Council in November 2018. However, any final agreement between the Council and the EP on Horizon Europe will depend on the approval of the next EU financial framework (MFF 2021-2027). Still, the Commission continues to pursue the ambitious goal of reaching an agreement on the MFF before the next EP elections (May 2019).