Article 185 initiatives

What is article 185?

Article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) allows the EU to participate in research programmes jointly undertaken by several EU countries.

This includes participating in the structures created to execute national programmes.

How the EU identifies Article 185 initiatives

The criteria to identify potential article 185 initiatives are set out in the Horizon 2020 programme. 

They include:

  • a clear definition of the objective to be pursued and its relevance to the objectives of Horizon 2020 and broader EU policy objectives
  • indicative financial commitments of the participating countries, in cash or in kind, including prior commitments to align national and/or regional investments for transnational research and innovation and, where appropriate, to pool resources
  • the added value of the action at EU level
  • the critical mass, with regard to the size and the number of programmes involved, the similarity or complementarity of activities and the share of relevant research they cover
  • the appropriateness of Article 185 TFEU for achieving the objectives

The Commission approach to new Article 185 initiatives

In identifying and preparing proposals for Article 185 TFEU initiatives, the Commission has drawn on lessons learnt from all initiatives established under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) as well as the ongoing initiatives under Horizon 2020.

In particular the necessity for a:

  • clear and firm commitment from the participating Member States
  • well-prepared joint programme and priorities
  • well-organised implementation structure


Ongoing Article 185 initiatives under Horizon 2020

The actions supported may cover subjects not directly linked to the themes of Horizon 2020, as far as they have a sufficient EU added value. They are also used to enhance the synergy between Horizon 2020 and the activities carried out under intergovernmental structures such as EUREKA and COST.      


Ambient Assisted Living (AAL)

The Active and Assisted Living joint research programme funds projects in public-private partnerships in the field of information and communication technology (ICT) for active and healthy ageing.

It was set up by a joint decision of the European Parliament and the Council on 15 May 2014.



The Eurostars Joint Programme provides financial support to market-oriented research projects initiated and driven by small and medium enterprises involved in research and development.

It is being undertaken by 33 countries in the framework of the Eureka network.

It was set up by a joint decision of the European Parliament and the Council on 15 May 2014.


European Metrology Programme for Innovation and  Research (EMPIR)

EMPIR is a joint European Research Programme in the field of Metrology, the science of measurement undertaken by 22 countries - Member States and Associated Countries to Horizon 2020.

It was set up by a joint decision of the European Parliament and the Council on 15 May 2014.


European and Developing Countries Clinical trials Partnership (EDCTP)

The European and Developing Countries Clinical trials Partnership aims to accelerate the development of new or improved drugs, vaccines, microbicides and diagnostics against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as well as other poverty-related and neglected infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on phase II and III clinical trials.

It was set up by a joint decision of the European Parliament and the Council on 15 May 2014.


Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA)

PRIMA fosters joint research and innovation activities among Mediterranean countries, aiming at developing innovative and sustainable solutions in agriculture, food production and water provision, encouraging application by communities, enterprises and citizens.

It was set up by a joint decision of the European Parliament and the Council on 4 July 2017.

Ongoing Article 185 initiatives under FP7


Joint Baltic Sea Research Programme (BONUS)

The BONUS Joint Baltic Sea Research Programme is aligned with the objectives of the European Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research. It is an integral part of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea which seeks to provide both a coordinated, and inclusive framework in response to the key challenges facing the Baltic Sea Region, together with concrete solutions for these challenges.

The BONUS Joint Programme was set up by a joint decision of the European Parliament and the Council on 22 September 2010.


Article 185 initiatives in practice and implementation

The recipient of the EU funding in each Article 185 TFEU initiative is a Dedicated Implementation Structure (DIS). The DIS is responsible for the administrative, financial and contractual management of the joint research programme.

The rules for participation are those of the national programmes concerned, provided they are compatible with EU legislation, plus any additional requirements which may be imposed by the Delegation Agreement.

The EU provides financial support to the joint implementation of the parts of the national research programmes involved, based on a joint programme and the setting-up of a dedicated implementation structure.

Implementing Article 185 TFEU in Horizon 2020 implies that the participating EU Member States integrate their research efforts by defining and committing themselves to a joint research programme. As part of the programme, the EU promotes its voluntary integration of scientific, managerial and financial aspects.


Related documents

Staff Working Document: Evaluation of the Participation of the EU in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States based on Article 185 of the TFEU, September 2017

Expert Group Report: Meta-Evaluation of Article 185 Initiatives, September 2017

Public Consultation: Evaluation of article 185 initiatives, September 2017

Article 185 legal text: Official Journal of the European Union, Volume 57, 7 June 2014