Commission welcomes the political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on Horizon Europe, the future EU research and innovation programme

Despite the uncertain times we have been living through over the past year, it seems that the European Union’s commitment to promoting industrial leadership in Europe remains intact.

As we already commented in the article we posted on this subject, coinciding with the end of the Horizon 2020 programme, the European Commission is working on the launch of the Horizon Europe programme, with the same aim as Horizon 2020 when it was launched, namely, to support innovation activities in Europe and drive scientific excellence. It has a budget of 95.5 billion euros for the period 2021-2027, making it the largest ever transnational programme in support of research and innovation.

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Following months of negotiations, on 11 December 2020 the institutions of the European Union reached a politicial agreement on the Horizon Europe programme. While the agreement is pending formal approval by the European Parliament and the Council, the Commission has been preparing its implementation in order to start the programme as soon as possible after publication of the provisional agreement in March and April 2019.

According to the information included in the provisional agreement signed in March, Horizon Europe is based on three main pillars: promoting scientific excellence, supporting projects aimed at developing technological solutions to challenges in critical areas such as health, climate change or mobility, and fostering innovation activities throughout the European Union. With the agreement about to be formally approved, the measures established by Horizon Europe to drive progress have now been defined:

  • Creation of the European Innovation Council (EIC), a one-stop-shop for developing the most promising ideas and providing support to the most innovative SMEs, which is currently in a pilot phase and will complement the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).
  • Implementation of the EU missions, aimed at tackling issues that affect our daily lives, from the fight against cancer to adaptation to climate change and care for the environment.
  • A streamlined approach to European partnerships, as well as encouraging wide participation of partners from the public and private sectors.
  • Strengthening international cooperation by granting the opportunity to cooperate with countries outside the EU (third countries) with good capacity in science, technology and innovation.
  • Promoting open science by ensuring open access to publications and research data.
  • Encouraging participation and reducing the innovation gap in Europe, approving a wide spectrum of measures to support countries with lower innovation performance, build up centres of excellence and facilitate collaborative links.
  • Increasing the impact of R&D&I by creating synergies with other European Union programmes and policies such as InvestEU, Erasmus+, EU Cohesion Policy, Digital Europe, European Structural and Investment Funds, among others.
  • Increasing legal certainty and reducing administrative burden for beneficiaries and programme administrators.

According to the press dossier published by the European Commission, the implementation of these measures is expected to create 300,000 jobs by 2040, of which 40% will be highly skilled jobs, and potentially generate up to 11 euros of GDP gains over 25 years for each euro invested in R&I. Moreover, it has been calculated that more than 35% of Horizon Europe spending will contribute to climate objectives.

Notwithstanding the formal approval of the agreement and the measures that are ultimately adopted, there can be no doubt that this new programme, even more ambitious than its predecessor, will help to establish an innovation ecosystem in Europe, and Spanish companies investing in R&D&I should seek to take advantage of the benefits and opportunities.

In this regard, it is essential to approach the calls for proposals that are published in the framework of the Horizon Europe programme with expert assistance and planning, providing greater guarantees for companies to be able to take advantage of this kind of opportunity. As part of our commitment to support Spanish companies and institutions in their innovation activities, we shall monitor and keep up to date with the news published on Horizon Europe and the first calls for proposals launched under the programme.

Other information of interest may be found below:


Authors: Alba Mª López and Marina Martínez

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