Horizon Europe 2021-2027

Horizon Europe is the new Research and Innovation European Framework Programme for the period 2021-2027, which officially began on January 1, 2021.

The European Parliament and the Council have defined the budget of around 95.5 billion euros for the most ambitious research and innovation program ever, funded by the traditional European common budget and the new Recovery Instrument, Next Generation EU.

Contacts and reservations

The work programmes are available in the EU Funding & Tenders portal: HE Main Work Programme.

On April 17, 2019, the European Parliament has formally agreed on the Regulation – Framework Programme and the Decision – Specific Programme for the period 2021-2027. This agreement has been reached by European institutions on March 19 of the same year and it establishes the legislative text for the next Framework Programme. It entails some core features and topics needed for development and growth in Europe, such as research, energy, space, transports, telecommunications and digital Europe.

On 29 September 2020, the research ministers of the 27 Member States approved the General Approach on the Regulation - Framework Programme and on the Decision - Specific programme.The Strategic Plan of Horizon Europe will end with the design of the Work Programmes and the first calls for funding. According to the latest updates received, the publication of the 2021-22 Work Programs and the opening of the first funding calls is scheduled for early May 2021.

On March 14, 2021, the European Commission adopted the first strategic plan of Horizon Europe for the years 2021-2024. The document defines the strategic guidelines for the Union's investments in research and innovation for the next four years, and aims at ensuring alignment between EU’s wider political priorities and the work programs of Horizon Europe.

Following the experience of Horizon 2020, the new Framework Programme will continue to drive Europe’s scientific excellence with a new mission-oriented approach. This will help define a new way to achieve wider social and policy aims as well as economic goals:

  • Adaptation to Climate Change
  • Cancer fighting
  • Ocean, seas and Waters
  • Climate neutral and Smart Cities
  • EU Soil

The programme aims to:

  • Strengthen excellent basic and frontier research, including by fostering wider participation of citizens throughout the Union, reinforcing the link between research, innovation, and where appropriate, education and other policies.
  • Deliver on the EU’s strategic priorities, support the implementation of Union policy priorities and tackle global challenges that affect the quality of our daily lives, applying policies aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030), the 6 European Commission’s priorities for 2019-2024, and the Paris Agreement, promoting responsible R&I and strengthening the gender dimension.
  • Increase collaboration links in European R&I and across sectors and disciplines, strengthening the international cooperation and attracting high-skilled research through mobility.
  • Develop competitive research infrastructures across the European Research Area to foster easier open access and to ensure visibility to the public and open access to scientific publications and research data.
  • Encourage exploitation of R&I results and actively disseminating and exploiting results, in particular for leveraging private investments and policy development.
  • Deliver, through R&I missions, on ambitious goals, to stimulate R&I activities in SMEs and the creation and scale-up of innovative companies.
  • Accelerate industrial transformation, foster the EU’s industrial competitiveness and its innovation performance and supporting market-creating innovation, including through improved skills for innovation and improved access to risk finance.

Further improvements have been developed to simplify rules, funding models and forms of grants, and to disseminate and exploit further research results. Among the novelties:

  • The European Innovation Council (EIC) shall stimulate all forms of innovation ranging from incremental to breakthrough and disruptive innovation, targeting especially market-creating innovation. The EIC through its instruments – Pathfinder and Accelerator – should aim to identify, develop and deploy high risk innovations of all kinds
  • Missions, with a higher impact through a well-oriented focus and a tighter correlation between EU research and innovation and a wider involvement of citizens. A mission is a cluster of actions with a very specific objective, relevant for science, technology, society and European population, within a limited period
  • Strengthen international cooperation thanks to a wider openness to third countries’ affiliation with excellent competences and to a more general openness to the international participation
  • The Corporate Grant Agreement, a new contractual model to be applied in all European projects with direct management, funded in the the Four-year Financial Framework 2021-2027. Specific attachments will define the characteristic elements of each programme with direct funding.
  • Open science policy to better spread the R&I results and open access to scientific publications and research data, through a responsible use of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and a new centralised service for scientific publication, Open Research Europe.
  • A more ambitious and strategic approach to the European Partnerships, more ambitious and strategic, of three types:
    - independent and co-programmed, based on a memorandum of Understanding;
    - co-financed, based on co-joint programmes between partners;
    - institutional, with a long-run perspective and a higher level of integration.

On the EU Funding & Tenders portal the first reference documents are available and regularly updated, starting from the legal documents and work programs of the Commission, up to the models of grant agreements and guides for specific actions (such as the General Model Grant Agreement, the Standard Proposal Template for RIA, IA, Proposal Template - CSA etc).

All information is available on the European Commission website, which promotes and makes available the materials presented during informative webinars for future applicants about the rules of presentation and evaluation, the new application forms of the proposals, the new structure and regulation of the Corporate Grant Agreement.

Further updates can be found on the Horizon Europe page of APRE - Agency for the Promotion of European Research.

Programme structure

Pillar 1:
Excellent Science

Supporting the creation and diffusion of excellent methodologies, skills, researchers and knowledge at all levels.

  • European Research Council (ERC): support frontier research in a bottom-up manner
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions: mobility and intersectoral training for researchers in a bottom-up manner
  • Infrastructures: interconnection of infrastructures to extend the frontiers of knowledge

Pillar 2:
Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness

Joint, aligned and flexible actions to tackle adequately global challenges through industrial competitiveness, to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth.

  • Clusters: pipelines of innovative solutions and technologies through missions and partnerships

    • Health
    • Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society
    • Civil Security for Society
    • Digital, Industry and Space
    • Climate, Energy and Mobility
    • Food, Bioeconomy, Nartural Resources, Agriculture and Environment

  • Joint Research Centre

Pillar 3:
Innovative Europe

Stimulating new ideas and forms of responsible, ethical and sustainable innovation to carry on delivering prosperity to citizens and meeting challenges of the future in cooperation with other EU policies and in particular the InvestEU Programme

  • European Innovation Council (EIC): support cutting-edge ideas and market-creating innovations
  • European innovation ecosystems: improvement of the environment within which innovation can flourish at all levels
  • European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) through Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs): joint action of fundamental elements (research, education and enterprises) towards innovation

Transversal action

Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area

Implementation of concrete measures, such as:

  • Widening participation and spreading excellence
  • Reforming and Enhancing the European Research and Innovation system

Last update: 21/05/2024