Horizon 2020
The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

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Europe in a changing world - Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies

Europe faces huge challenges in reducing inequality and social exclusion. 80 million people are at risk of poverty and 14 million young people are not in education, employment or training. We have not yet overcome the economic crisis which has led to unemployment rates of 12% in general and 20% among the youth.

Reducing inequalities and social exclusion in Europe (80 million people at risk of poverty, 14 million young people not in education, employment or training), overcoming the economic and financial crisis and tackling unemployment (12% in EU and above 20% of youth unemployment in 2012) are crucial challenges for the future of Europe. At the same time, there is great potential for Europe through opportunities provided, for example, by new forms of innovation and by the engagement of citizens. Supporting inclusive, innovative and reflective societies is a prerequisite for a sustainable European integration.

The emergence of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), and therefore of a multipolar world, the ageing of the EU population and the need for more innovation call for a renewed understanding of this rapidly changing world. This understanding is supported by strong multidisciplinary approaches, including social sciences and humanities and information and communication technologies. European and national policies need to continue modernisation while acknowledging the socio-economic and cultural diversity in Europe, and improved knowledge about how our modern societies work.

EU research and innovation will address social exclusion, discriminations and various forms of inequalities. It will explore new forms of innovation and strengthen the evidence base for the Innovation Union, the European Research Area and other relevant EU policies. It will promote coherent and effective cooperation with third countries. Finally, it will address the issues of memories, identities, tolerance and cultural heritage.

Key future research and innovation actions for 2014 and 2015 will focus on:

  • New ideas, strategies and governance structures for overcoming the crisis in Europe (resilient economic and monetary Union, EU growth agenda, EU social policies, the future of European integration, emerging technologies in the public sector).
  • The young generation in an innovative, inclusive and sustainable Europe (job insecurity, youth mobility, adult education, social and political engagement of young people, modernisation of public administrations).
  • Reflective societies: transmission of European cultural heritage, uses of the past, 3D modelling for accessing EU cultural assets.
  • Europe as a global actor: focusing research and innovation cooperation with third countries, new geopolitical order in the Mediterranean, EU eastern partnership and other third countries.
  • New forms of innovation in the public sector, open government, business model innovation, social innovation community, ICT for learning and inclusion.

In short, this Societal Challenge of the Horizon 2020 programme aims at fostering a greater understanding of Europe, by providing solutions and support inclusive, innovative and reflective European societies with an innovative public sector in a context of unprecedented transformations and growing global interdependencies.

Read more in the FAQs.



20/06/2014 - 12:13

In 30 years’ time, there will be 150 million older people living in the EU. Where will you live? What kind of shape will you be in? Will you still be healthy and independent? Society is ageing. But making sure our golden years are happier and healthier is not just down to the individual, it’s also down to the whole society, public and private sectors together. Improving the quality of life of older people is a priority for the European Commission. Read more

13/02/2014 - 11:53

In this video Paul Timmers (Director of Sustainable and Secure Society in DG Connect) speaks about the funding opportunities in ICT for societal challenges in the recently launched Horizon 2020 framework programme. This is the first video of a series of 7 each one explaining more in detail the funding opportunities for different societal challenges. Read more

13/02/2014 - 15:33

Open Government, engagement of young people, open participation, emerging technologies in the public sector, innovative mobile eGovernment, privacy, cloud of public services...

What is our vision of the societal challenge around Public Services? Which are the funding opportunities for these topics in the recently launched Horizon 2020 framework programme?

Mechthild Rohen, Head of the Public Services Unit in DG CONNECT speaks about this. Enjoy this short video.

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25/09/2015 - 13:58

On 25 September, the Commission launched an online survey to gather opinions from stakeholders on the impact of the simplification measures introduced in Horizon 2020, and to ask for new ideas on future simplification. Read more

03/07/2015 - 11:31

The second edition of the European Tertiary Education Register (ETER) has been published today. ETER offers a comprehensive compilation of information on more than 2 200 European higher education institutions. Read more

20/03/2015 - 13:15

The European Summit of Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing took place in Brussels on March 9 and 10. Over 1200 visitors swamped the Brussels Square meeting centre, took part in over 32 sessions, workshops, sandpits and the Pioneer Village with its 20 exhibition booths. Read more

Project stories

06/10/2015 - 20:33

FARSEEING aimed to focus on the issue of promoting healthy, independent living for older adults. More specifically, it aimed at better prediction, identification and prevention of falls with a focus on ICT devices and the unique proactive opportunities they can provide to older adults to support them in their own environment. Key to this was the falls repository (real-world falls) and a broad range of technologies which include the use of smartphone, smarthome, wearable sensors and exergames. Read more

06/10/2015 - 20:17

The main goal of WIISEL is to develop a flexible research tool to collect and analyze gait data from real users and correlate parameters related with the risk of falls from the elderly population. The WIISEL system can be useful as a research tool for studying fall risk and as a clinical tool for long-term monitoring of fall risk in the home and community setting. Read more

06/10/2015 - 17:40

The project ENRICHME “Enabling Robot and assisted living environment for Independent Care and Health Monitoring of the Elderly“, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, is a pioneering project in that it will be testing technologies for supporting elderly people with Mild Cognitive Impairments in the long-term and in their living environment. Read more


25/09/2015 - 17:40

Horizon 2020 is the EU’s biggest ever programme for research and innovation, and it has got off to an excellent start. This brochure presents information on the first 100 calls for proposals that closed by 1 December 2014. Read more

24/09/2015 - 20:03

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever. Almost €80 billion of funding is available over seven years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private and national public investment that this money will attract. This publication presents the full set of Key Performance and Cross-Cutting Issues Indicators for Horizon 2020, including those for the European Institute of Technology and EURATOM. Read more

01/04/2015 - 13:30

For three decades, the EU Framework Programmes have been funding breakthroughs across Europe. RTD’s Horizon Magazine looks at the people and events that have helped shape European research policy, taking you behind the scenes during the pivotal moments from the last 30 years of research funding. These articles have been brought together into a special Horizon supplement to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Framework Programmes. Read more

Press Release

08/04/2015 - 18:50

Researchers, businesses and innovators from Ukraine will now be able to fully participate in Horizon 2020, the European Union's research and innovation funding programme, on equal terms with EU Member States and other associated countries. Read more

02/07/2014 - 14:14

Data collection and exploitation is a growing phenomenon; in response to industry and grassroots demands the European Commission is calling on national governments to wake-up to this big data revolution. One of the main concrete proposed actions to solve these problems is the creation of an open data incubator (within the Horizon 2020 framework), to help SMEs set up supply chains based on data and use cloud computing more. Read more