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The European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on Horizon Europe

15/12/2020

The Commission welcomes the political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on Horizon Europe, the largest transnational programme ever supporting research and innovation. The new EU research and innovation programme will have a budget of around €95.5 billion for 2021-2027 (current prices). This includes €5.4 billion (current prices) from NextGenerationEU to boost our recovery and make the EU more resilient for the future, as well as an additional reinforcement of €4.5 billion (current prices). This represents a 30% increase vis-à-vis the current research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020 (comparing Horizon Europe against Horizon 2020 for EU27, in constant prices) and makes it the most ambitious research and innovation programme in the world.

Horizon Europe will promote excellence and provide valuable support to top researchers and innovators to drive the systemic changes needed to ensure a green, healthy and resilient Europe. It will drive scientific excellence through the European Research Council (ERC) to enable our most excellent researchers to push the frontiers of knowledge to tackle our economic and social challenges. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships and exchanges will help the best talent, young researchers, to expand on their knowledge and skills, and Europe will benefit from the scientific advice, technical support and dedicated research of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Commission's science and knowledge service.

The programme will also support collaborative research relating to our societal challenges and reinforces technological and industrial capacities through thematic clusters that address the full spectrum of global challenges. For example, Horizon Europe's Climate Energy and Mobility cluster and the Digital Industry and Space cluster will scale up R&I resources in climate-related domains and ensures that European enterprises have access to the technologies and data they need. In the latter, Quantum Research will be prioritised thereby expanding the European scientific leadership and excellence in quantum technologies. The cluster Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society has been reinforced, supporting research and innovation in the cultural and creative sectors, cultural heritage, through building cultural heritage collaborative space, as well as in humanities and arts. Its Health cluster will tackle challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic, the extension of clinical trials, innovative protective measures, virology, vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, and the translation of research findings into public health policy measures.

The European missions will focus on ambitious, time-bound and achievable goals to deliver on common European goods. They aim at achieving by 2030 3 million lives saved from cancer diseases, 100 climate neutral cities, healthy oceans, seas and internal waters, healthy soils and food, and regions resilient to climate changes. A streamlined number of European Partnerships will encourage wide participation of partners from public and private sectors, covering critical areas such as energy, transport, biodiversity, health, food and circularity.  

As knowledge has no territorial boundaries, Horizon Europe will also encourage participation, decrease the R&I gap, and strengthen the European Research Area (ERA) through a wide spectrum of measures to support lower R&I performing countries, to build up excellence centres, to improve their capacity and facilitate collaborative links. 3.3% of the programme's budget will be allocated to this which is a significant increase compared to Horizon 2020.  

Additionally, the programme will introduce new features such as the European Innovation Council (EIC) and EU missions. The EIC, which is already running in a pilot phase, will receive over €10 billion in budget to provide support for emerging and breakthrough innovations by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, and midcaps. It will complement the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). European innovation ecosystems will be boosted by connecting with regional and national innovation actors. EU missions aim to tackle issues that affect our daily lives, ranging from fighting cancer to adapting to climate change, living in greener cities, ensuring soil health for food, nature, people and climate, and protecting our waters and ocean.  

Horizon Europe will increase its impact by working closely together with other EU programmes and policies, such as InvestEU, Erasmus+, EU Cohesion Policy, Digital Europe, European Structural and Investment Funds, Connecting Europe Facility, and the Recovery and Resilience Facility, to promote faster dissemination at national and regional level, and uptake of research and innovation results. For the first time in the history of the framework programme, regions, on a voluntary basis, can transfer part of their regional funds to Horizon Europe to be used in research and innovation activities in their region. The Commission has also proposed to exempt the Seal of Excellence SME projects under Horizon Europe from notification when it comes to state aid to further facilitate the support. This is possible because of safeguards embedded in EU programmes managed centrally by the Commission. 

Next steps

This political agreement is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. Since the provisional agreement in March 2019, the Commission has been preparing Horizon Europe's implementation in order to start the programme as soon as possible in 2021.

Background

With only 7% of the world's population, Europe accounts for 20% of global R&D investment, produces one third of all high-quality scientific publications, and holds a world leading position in industrial sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, mechanical engineering and fashion. Research and innovation has been key to battle the coronavirus outbreak. €1 billion from Horizon 2020 has been pledged to ensure collaborative development and universal deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. Horizon Europe will have a strong degree of continuity with Horizon 2020, the current EU research and innovation programme (2014-2020): three pillars, excellence at the core, and maintaining the tested funding rules and procedures of Horizon 2020. But it has been improved to maximise its impact, its relevance to society and its potential for breakthrough innovation.

On 10 November 2020, a political agreement was reached between the European Parliament, EU Member States in the Council as well as the Commission on the next long-term EU budget and NextGenerationEU. As a next step, the legal adoption of the MFF package by the Council and the European Parliament along with the ratification of the Own Resources Decision is now urgently needed. Once adopted, the EU's long-term budget, coupled with the NextGenerationEU initiative, which is a temporary instrument designed to drive the recovery of Europe, will be the largest stimulus package ever financed through the EU budget. A total of €1.8 trillion (in 2018 prices) will help rebuild a post-COVID-19 Europe. It will be a greener, more digital and more resilient Europe.

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