What are missions?

Partly inspired by the Apollo 11 mission to put a man on the moon, 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.

Each mission is a mandate to solve a pressing challenge in society within a certain timeframe and budget.

A wide range of studies and reports informed this approach.

Missions will

  • be bold, inspirational and widely relevant to society
  • be clearly framed: targeted, measurable and time-bound
  • establish impact-driven but realistic goals
  • mobilise resources
  • link activities across different disciplines and different types of research and innovation
  • drive a systemic change and transform landscapes rather than fix problems in existing ones
  • make it easier for citizens to understand the value of investments in research and innovation

Areas where there will be missions

Making missions happen

Commission approach and composition of mission boards

The Commission will engage with citizens in a continuous process for the design, monitoring and assessment of the missions.

They will listen to their priorities and define with them concrete angles and options to tackle the missions

To do this, 5 mission boards were formed to help specify, design and implement missions for Horizon Europe. Their formation was the result of an open call for interest.

Each mission board consists of up to 15 experts coming from innovation, research, policymaking, civil society and relevant organisations.

Each mission area also has an assembly that gathers a larger number of high-level experts. The assemblies provide an additional pool of ideas, knowledge and expertise that will be actively called upon to contribute to the success of the missions.

Details of mission board chairs, lists of board and assembly members

5 missions proposed by the mission boards

At the European Research & Innovation Days (22-24 September 2020), each mission board presented their proposals to the European Commission for possible EU missions.

The Mission Boards discussed with stakeholders as well as citizens, listening to their expectations and needs through a series of events across EU countries.

5 possible missions proposed by the mission boards:

Conquering Cancer: Mission Possible
Targets by 2030: more than 3 million more lives saved, living longer and better, achieve a thorough understanding of cancer, prevent what is preventable, optimise diagnosis and treatment, support the quality of life of all people exposed to cancer, and ensure equitable access to the above across Europe.

A Climate Resilient Europe - Prepare Europe for climate disruptions and accelerate the transformation to a climate resilient and just Europe by 2030
Targets by 2030: prepare Europe to deal with climate disruptions, accelerate the transition to a healthy and prosperous future within safe planetary boundaries and scale up solutions for resilience that will trigger transformations in society.

Mission Starfish 2030: Restore our Ocean and Waters
Targets by 2030: cleaning marine and fresh waters, restoring degraded ecosystems and habitats, decarbonising the blue economy in order to sustainably harness the essential goods and services they provide.

100 Climate-Neutral Cities by 2030 - by and for the citizens
Targets by 2030: support, promote and showcase 100 European cities in their systemic transformation towards climate neutrality by 2030 and turn these cities into innovation hubs for all cities, benefiting quality of life and sustainability in Europe.

Caring for Soil is Caring for Life
Targets by 2030: at least 75% of all soils in the EU are healthy for food, people, nature and climate. The proposed mission combines research and innovation, education and training, investments and the demonstration of good practices using “Living labs” (experiments and innovation in a laboratory on the ground) and “Lighthouses” (places to showcase good practices).

Next steps

The Commission will announce its final selected missions at the end of 2020.

The missions will launch in 2021 as part of Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation programme. Europeans will continue to be engaged in all phases of their implementation.

How to get involved

The Commission wants to co-create missions and Horizon Europe initiatives with citizens and stakeholders.

We need broad participation from the public to make sure missions are relevant and make a real difference. This feedback will affect how missions are designed and implemented.

People will be invited to

  • participate in online discussions and polls on social media
  • attend citizen events and specialised conferences to discuss the focus of missions
  • participate in a range of other activities as the missions evolve

Follow our social media below to stay up-to-date and find opportunities to participate as missions evolve over 2020.

Overview of events