Representation in United Kingdom

European Commission proposes EU's biggest ever research and innovation programme


Commissioner Carlos Moedas
Commissioner Carlos Moedas

The Commission proposes €100 billion (£88 bn) for the next EU research and innovation funding programme, Horizon Europe, between 2021 and 2027. The new programme will build on the achievements of Horizon 2020, but it will put even stronger emphasis on turning research into results, in areas such as medicine, food and tackling climate change. Each euro invested by Horizon Europe could potentially generate a return of up to 11 euro in GDP over 25 years.


Presenting the new programme at a press conference in Brussels, EU Science, Research and Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas acknowledged the importance of the UK for European science.

"It is very important for the UK and it is very important for the EU to have a relationship in science and innovation. We've had this relationship for so long, so many of our scientists live in the UK and so many of the UK scientists live in the EU, that we really want this to work".

But the Commissioner made clear that the future relationship in science and research depends on negotiations:

"We want to open our programme to the world. We have increased the way we look at third countries and increased the ability to have more associations. That was not done specifically for the UK because we don't know what is going to be the result of the general negotiation between the UK and the EU. We cannot have an agreement on science with the UK if there is no specific agreement for all the other programmes. But when you have this agreement then you can think how the UK can be that third country, one of those that are part of the family. And we have third countries that are part of the family, that sit with us at the table and that we really cherish".

As it is designed to apply from 1 January 2021, the Horizon Europe programme is for a Union of 27 member states. Third country participation will necessitate a negotiated agreement, based on the conditions laid out in the programme.

The Horizon Europe programme will continue to drive scientific excellence through the European Research Council (ERC) (€16.6 billion proposed budget). In the ten years since the ERC was founded, its funding has led to six Nobel prizes. The new programme will maintain the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships and exchanges (€6.8 billion).

But it also introduces new features:

  • A European Innovation Council (EIC) will help to identify and fund fast-moving, high-risk innovations with strong potential to create entirely new markets. It will provide direct support to innovators through two main funding instruments, one for early stages and the other for development and market deployment.

  • New EU-wide research and innovation missions will focus on societal challenges like the fight against cancer, clean transport or plastic-free oceans.

  • Support will be doubled for member states lagging behind in their efforts to make the most of their national research and innovation potential.

  •  The principle of 'open science' will become the norm, requiring open access to publications and data.

Expectations are that each euro invested by Horizon Europe could potentially generate a return of up to 11 euro of GDP over 25 years and that investment in R&I will generate up to 100 000 jobs for the seven year period between 2021 and 2027. The interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 showed that the current research programme is on track to help create jobs and growth, tackle big societal challenges and improve people's lives. It has so far supported over 18 000 projects with over €31 billion (£27 bn). Among the more recent scientific advances funded by Horizon 2020 are a novel lab test which helps assess the amount of chemotherapy needed to treat breast cancer, a technology to produce jet fuel from air and water using solar energy and robots that can help the elderly with daily tasks.

UK universities, SMEs and other organisations participated in more EU funded research and innovation projects – 7 500  - than their counterparts from any other country over the first three years (2014-16) of Horizon 2020. UK researchers and innovators directly received 15.2% of the overall funding available, as well as benefitting indirectly from funding allocated to their project partners from elsewhere.

Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.


Examples of EU funded research
Examples of EU funded research


Examples of EU funded research
Examples of EU funded research