What are EU Missions?

EU Missions are a new way to bring concrete solutions to some of our greatest challenges. They have ambitious goals and will deliver concrete results by 2030 .

They will deliver impact by putting research and innovation into a new role, combined with new forms of governance and collaboration, as well as by engaging citizens.

EU Missions are a novelty of the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme for the years 2021-2027.

They support Commission priorities, such as the European Green Deal, Europe fit for the Digital Age, Beating Cancer and the New European Bauhaus. For instance, Mission Climate is already a concrete element of the new Climate Adaptation Strategy, Mission Cancer of the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and the Mission Soil is a flagship initiative of the Long-term Vision for the EU’s Rural Areas.

EU Missions are a coordinated effort by the Commission to pool the necessary resources in terms of funding programmes, policies and regulations, as well as other activities. They also aim to mobilise and activate public and private actors, such as EU Member States, regional and local authorities, research institutes, farmers and land managers, entrepreneurs and investors to create real and lasting impact. Missions will engage with citizens to boost societal uptake of new solutions and approaches.

EU Missions will support Europe’s transformation into a greener, healthier, more inclusive and resilient continent. They aim to bring tangible benefits to people in Europe and engage Europeans in their design, implementation and monitoring.

Each mission will operate as a portfolio of actions – such as research projects, policy measures or even legislative initiatives - to achieve a measurable goal that could not be achieved through individual actions.

How were the Missions prepared?

Five Mission Boards gathering top experts were formed to help specify, design and implement Missions for Horizon Europe.

Based on their proposals handed over to the Commission in September 2020, five Missions were identified in the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan.

In October 2020, the Commission validated the five proposed Missions. They entered a preparatory phase to develop five detailed implementation plans including objectives, intervention logic and indicators for measuring performance. The Commission assessed these plans against specific criteria and gave a go-ahead to the launch of the Missions on 28th of September 2021.

How long will a Mission last?

A mission should last as long as is needed to accomplish its objectives. There is no fixed duration, but they should deliver a stream of benefits with final results expected to be achieved around 2030, given the likely ambition and scale of EU Missions.

How will Missions be implemented?

EU Missions are now launching into their full implementation phase. The first Horizon Europe work programme for 2021-22, published in June 2021, includes a set of actions that lay the ground for the implementation of Missions. It will now be updated with a full research and innovation agenda by the end of this year.

In parallel, Missions will engage with participating regions, cities and organisations as well as citizens. For Missions to be successful, they need to mobilise and activate public and private actors, such as EU Member States, regional and local authorities, research institutes, entrepreneurs and investors to create real and lasting impact. A critical element of Missions will be to reach out to local communities and engage with citizens to boost societal uptake of new solutions and approaches.

How cities can participate

The Commission launched a Call for Expression of Interest addressed to cities on 25 November 2021. This call will allow cities to state their interest in becoming climate-neutral by 2030 as part of the Mission and to submit information on their current situation, ongoing work and future plans with regard to climate neutrality.

Registration is necessary to access the questionnaire that cities will need to fill in to respond to the call. Registration is possible at any time, before or after the call will be opened. Cities who pre-register will receive the link to the questionnaire via email once the Call for Expression of Interest is launched. 

Cities can see a preview of the survey.

Factsheet: EU Cities Mission: What is in it for my city and how can we become a part of it?

What this EU Mission deals with

The importance of climate-neutral and smart cities

Cities play a pivotal role in achieving climate neutrality by 2050, the goal of the European Green Deal. They take up only 4% of the EU’s land area, but they are home to 75% of EU citizens. Furthermore, cities consume over 65% of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions.

Since climate mitigation is heavily dependent on urban action, we need to support cities in accelerating their green and digital transformation. In particular, European cities can substantially contribute to the Green Deal target of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030 and, in more practical terms, to offer cleaner air, safer transport and less congestion and noise to their citizens.

Aims of the mission

The Cities Mission will involve local authorities, citizens, businesses, investors as well as regional and national authorities to

1 Deliver 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030

2. Ensure that these cities act as experimentation and innovation hubs to enable all European cities to follow suit by 2050

As foreseen in its implementation plan, the Cities Mission takes a cross-sectoral and demand-led approach, creating synergies between existing initiatives and basing its activities on the actual needs of cities.

The Mission will have as its central feature the Climate City Contracts to be drawn up, signed and implemented by each participating city. While not legally binding, these contracts will constitute a clear and highly visible political commitment not just to the Commission and the national and regional authorities, but also to their citizens. They will set out plans for the city to achieve climate neutrality by 2030 and they will include an investment plan.

Climate City Contracts will be co-created with local stakeholders and citizens, with the help of a Mission Platform (to be set up by project NetZeroCities).

The Mission Platform will provide the necessary technical, regulatory and financial assistance to cities. In addition, Horizon Europe will invest around €350 million in research and innovation actions linked to the Mission (e.g. in mobility, energy, urban planning) in the period 2021-23. Some calls for proposals are already open in the Commission’s Funding and Tenders Portal and a first full work programme will be published there by the end of the year.

How specific EU Missions were 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.

Possible mission proposed by the mission board

At the end of June 2020, the mission board produced an interim report proposing concrete targets and a timeline for a possible mission.

The interim report was the basis for further discussion and engagement with Europeans to make sure that the proposed mission is relevant and will make a real difference.

The final recommendations of the mission board were handed over to the European Commission at the European Research & Innovation Days 22-24 September 2020.

The proposed mission:

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.

More information





  • End of June 2020

    The Mission Board produces a draft report proposing concrete targets and timelines

  • 22-24 September 2020

    The final recommendations of the Mission Board are handed over to the European Commission at the European Research & Innovation Days

  • November 2020

    The mission enters preparatory phase

  • 1st and 2nd quarter of 2021

    Preparation of mission implementation plans, followed by Commission decision on full implementation phase

  • 3rd and 4th quarter of 2021

    Launch of the missions in full implementation phase; updated Horizon Europe Work Programme for EU missions

  • 29 September 2021

    Official launch of the EU Mission on Climate Neutral and Smart Cities and publication of the mission implementation plan

  • 1 October 2021

    Launch of the Mission Platform


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