What are missions and mission areas?

Partly inspired by the Apollo 11 mission to put a man on the moon, the European research and innovation missions aim to deliver solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our world. They are an integral part of the Horizon Europe framework programme beginning in 2021. 

Individual missions will be chosen from the 5 mission areas that were identified during the negotiations of Horizon Europe.

What this mission area deals with

The importance of climate-neutral and smart cities

More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. This is expected to reach 80% by 2050. Cities and metropolitan areas are centres of economic activity, knowledge generation, innovation and new technologies.

They impact upon the quality of life of citizens who live and/or work in them and they are major contributors to global challenges.

Aims of missions in this area

A mission in this area will help us meet the goals and targets set out by international policy frameworks such as the COP21 Paris Agreement, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (notably SDG11), the Urban Agenda for the EU and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda as cities play a key role in all of them. 

How specific missions will be identified

This mission area has a mission board tasked with identifying one or more specific missions for implementation under Horizon Europe.  The mission board consists of 15 experts, including the chair, and is supported by a mission secretariat and an assembly.  

They will have to propose concrete targets and timelines for each mission by the end of 2019. 

More information


  • 6 September 2019

    First meeting of the mission board

  • End 2019

    Target for mission boards to identify the first of one or more possible missions in the area

  • 2020

    The mission board develops, together with stakeholders and citizens, the research and innovation activities that will contribute to the mission. These will be funded via the Horizon Europe work programme for 2021-2022.

  • 1 January 2021

    The missions come into effect with the launch of Horizon Europe