At the European Council of 26 March 2010, the EU member states agreed the Europe 2020 Strategy. Among the priorities, knowledge, research and innovation are key to improve the European competitiveness.
On 26 November 2010, the Council endorsed the "Innovation Union" Initiative, which is one of the seven Flagships of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The aim is to "improve framework conditions and access to finance for research and innovation so as to strengthen the innovation chain and boost levels of investment throughout the Union".
On 4 February 2011 the European Council on Energy and Innovation has endorsed the Common Strategic Framework for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020) promoted by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn: it will bring the key research and innovation instruments under one umbrella: the Framework Programme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).
The aim is to have harmonised rules of access and funding , to simplify the way the EU supports research and innovation, and to make these instruments work in closer harmony with the Structural Funds. A consultation based on a European Commission Green Paper published on 9 February 2011 confirmed the main proposed elements. The new framework will be called Horizon 2020.