The first Horizon Europe strategic plan (2021-2024)

The first strategic plan sets out the key strategic orientations for the targeting of investments in the programme's first 4 years.

  • promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains to accelerate and steer the digital and green transitions through human-centred technologies and innovations
  • restoring Europe‚Äôs ecosystems and biodiversity, and managing sustainably natural resources to ensure food security and a clean and healthy environment
  • making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems
  • creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society, prepared and responsive to threats and disasters, addressing inequalities and providing high-quality health care, and empowering all citizens to act in the green and digital transitions

It also identifies the European co-funded and co-programmed partnerships, the missions and covers international cooperation and other aspects.

Read the analysis

Read the first strategic plan

Factsheet: the first strategic plan

Press release: Horizon Europe's first strategic plan 2021-2024

Strategic planning

Strategic planning in Horizon Europe has resulted in the first strategic plan and will define future strategic plans.

Both the strategic planning and the strategic plan have been included in detail in the Horizon Europe legal acts for the first time.

Strategic planning focuses in particular on Pillar II of the programme, Global challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness and covers also relevant activities in other pillars and the Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area part.

It ensures alignment with other relevant EU programmes (including the Euratom programme) and consistency with EU priorities and commitments and increases complementarity and synergies with national and regional funding programmes and priorities, thereby strengthening the European Research Area.

At the same time, it allows for the linking of the direct research undertaken by the Commission's Joint Research Centre and other actions supported under the programme.

The European Institute of Technology (EIT) implements Horizon Europe in line with its strategic objectives for the period 2021-2027, as laid down in the Strategic Innovation Agenda of the EIT, taking into account the strategic planning.

The Commission ensures early involvement and extensive exchanges with EU countries, and extensive exchanges with the European Parliament, complemented by consultation with stakeholders and the public at large. This contributes to a stronger engagement with citizens and civil society.

The strategic plan prepares the contents of Horizon Europe work programmes.

Content of strategic plans

Strategic plans adopted by the Commission contain the following elements for the time period concerned

  • key strategic orientations for research and innovation support, including a description of expected impacts, cross-cluster issues and intervention areas covered
  • identification of co-programmes and co-funded European partnerships
  • identification of missions.
  • areas for international cooperation, actions to be aligned with research and innovation of other nations and regions of the world at major scale, or actions to be carried out in cooperation with organisations outside the EU
  •  specific issues, such as the balance between research and innovation; the integration of social sciences and humanities; the role of key enabling technologies and strategic value chains; gender equality, including the integration of gender dimension in research and innovation content; adherence to the highest ethics and integrity standards; priorities for dissemination and exploitation

Analysis for the strategic plans

When developing strategic plans, the content must also take into account an analysis covering at least the following elements.

  • political, socio-economic and environmental drivers, which are relevant for the EU and EU countries' policy priorities
  • the contribution of research and innovation to the realisation of EU policy objectives, while capitalising on studies, other scientific evidence and relevant initiatives at EU and national level, including institutionalised partnerships 
  • evidence-base resulting from foresight activities, science and technology and innovation indicators, international developments such as the implementation of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) and feedback from implementation, including monitoring the implementation of specific measures with regard to widening participation and sharing excellence and participation of SMEs
  • priorities with the potential to be implemented in synergy with other EU programmes
  • a description of the various approaches for stakeholder consultation and citizen engagement as part of the work to develop work programmes
  • complementarity and synergies with planning of the Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs) of the EIT