First Deal on the next Horizon Europe programme

A first agreement on Horizon Europe, the ninth R&D programme, will run from 2021 – 2027. Its final budget still unknown.

Mar 21, 2019
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In the early hours of the morning on 20 March, negotiators for the European Parliament and the EU Council struck a deal on Horizon Europe, the EU’s next research funding programme, improving chances that the European Commission will be able implement it on time in 2021.   Horizon Europe, the ninth R&D programme, will run from 2021 – 2027. The commission has proposed a budget of €94.1 billion for the programme, while the parliament wants €120 billion. The amount won’t be agreed until the end of 2019 at the earliest, because it depends on negotiations for the EU’s long-term financial plan. 

The agreed programme has five mission areas and eight partnership areas. The missions themselves and the various public–private and intergovernmental partnerships will be finalised by the commission in strategic planning, before being submitted to the council for approval. The number of missions will be small, but there may be more than one per mission area. There will almost certainly be dozens of partnerships.

The five mission areas are:

  1. Adapting to climate change, including societal transformation
  2. Cancer
  3. Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  4. Climate-neutral and smart cities
  5. Soil health and food

The eight partnership areas are:

  1. Faster development and safer use of health innovations for European patients, and global health.
  2. Advancing key digital and enabling technologies and their use, including but not limited to novel technologies such as artificial intelligence, photonics and quantum technologies.
  3. European leadership in metrology, including an integrated metrology system.
  4. Accelerate competitiveness, safety and environmental performance of EU air traffic, aviation and rail.
  5. Sustainable, inclusive and circular bio-based solutions.
  6. Hydrogen and sustainable energy storage technologies with lower environmental footprint and less energy-intensive production.
  7. Clean, connected, cooperative, autonomous and automated solutions for future mobility demands of people and goods.
  8. Innovative and R&D intensive small and medium-sized enterprises.

The European Innovation Council

The deal has brought also some changes to the European Innovation Council, the flagship new funding agency set up by research commissioner Carlos Moedas. One part of the EIC, the Accelerator, is intended to support innovation in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and will replace the existing component of Horizon 2020, the SME Instrument, which focuses on grants. 

No pay rise for researchers

MEPs were unable to persuade the council that Horizon Europe should pay researchers in poorer countries an additional 25 per cent on top of all personnel costs funded through the programme, which translate on no pay rise for the researchers of Eastern Europe.

This is the beginning. This agreement is still has to be approved by the whole parliament and the member states. The budget, and the terms for non-EU countries that want to participate, can’t be finalised until member states reach a unanimous agreement on the EU’s next long-term financial plan.


Top image of post: Designed by rawpixel.com / Freepik

Angeles Rodriguez-Pena

Senior Scientist, Spanish National Research Council

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