Open access to research publications is mandatory for all projects in Horizon 2020. With this rule the Commission aims to guarantee a broad access to publicly funded research results without at the same time harming a sustainable publication system. The provision does not imply an obligation to publish. Only once a decision has been taken to publish (and not e.g. to protect) the results in question the open access policy comes into play.
Detailed provisions concerning open access based on the experiences in FP7 are laid down in the Grant Agreement. There is no preference for a specific type of access – either "Gold" Open Access (the author pays for the publication in an open access journal) or „Green“ Open Access (archiving of the article in an online repository, access possibly after an embargo-period) can be chosen. If „green“ open access is chosen, an embargo period of either max. 6 or - for the Social Sciences and Humanities – 12 months is acceptable. Costs that may arise for an open access publication are eligible within the project duration.
Further provisions for open access to other kinds of project results, in particular to research data on which a publication is based, may be fixed in the Grant Agreement. Open access to research data is currently set up as a pilot action ("Open Research Data Pilot“) within Horizon 2020. Projects taking part in the pilot will have to facilitate open access to their research data and to include a data management plan as deliverable. If justified, consortia may opt-out from the participation in the pilot. Initially, only certain areas of the framework programme were included. In July 2016, the pilot was expanded to all new calls.
In order to fund Open Access publications for finalized FP7 projects, the "OpenAIRE2020" project (financed by the European Commission) developed the EC FP7 post-grant Gold Open Access Pilot. Until the end of February 2018 researchers could request funding for OA Article Processing Charges (APCs) arising from finished FP7 projects up to two years after they end.