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Horizon Europe: introducing the EU’s new framework programme

The European Union’s 9th Framework Programme or Horizon Europe, should be a successor of the previous framework programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020. With the mantra “Evolution, not revolution”, it is built on H2020’s structure, implementing the good practices and improving its shortcomings. Still, the budget for Horizon Europe, as a part of the next MFF, is still unknown, resulting in many emerging initiatives advocating for bigger allocation.

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Since the early 1980s, the European Union (EU) supports individual researchers and the consortia of research organisations, universities and businesses through multiannual funding programmes known as “framework programmes for research and innovation”. To have a bigger impact on society in general and to move towards new discoveries in science, the EU launches a new framework programme every seven years. The 9th Framework Programme, or Horizon Europe, will replace the framework programme H2020, as of January 2021. So, what is Horizon Europe? The 9th Framework Programme or Horizon Europe was proposed in June 2018 by the European Commission with a €100 billion budget as a part of the EU-long-term-budget (Multiannual Financial Framework) for the years 2021–2027. The European Parliament and Council reached a political agreement and the endorsed provisional agreement on Horizon Europe in March/April 2019. The main objectives of Horizon Europe are: strengthening the EU’s scientific and technological foundations and European Research Area (ERA), increasing innovation capacity, competitiveness and the number of jobs in Europe, fulfilling citizens’ priorities and maintaining socioeconomic models and value. Horizon Europe won’t bring any surprises in its structure. Jean-Eric Paquet, the EU’s Director for Research and Innovation, emphasised that the work on Horizon Europe’s programme is based on Pascal Lamy’s report on the H2020 and his mantra: “Evolution, not revolution”. One of the new features Horizon Europe had already introduced as a pilot project is the European Innovation Council (EIC), which will complement the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). In Horizon Europe, Eastern European countries should be supported with double the H2020 amount to make the most of their national research and innovation potential. Horizon Europe also extends association possibilities which should ensure that third countries with good capacity in science, technology and innovation become more eligible for international participation. There are three new types of European partnerships which should result with better collaborations: Co-programmed European Partnerships, Co-funded European Partnerships and Institutionalised European Partnerships. Open Science policies and open access will be the modus operandi of Horizon Europe, supporting the digital revolution in Europe. Better dissemination and exploitation of R&I results are one of the ways with which the objective of the active engagement of society should be reached. Still, the budget for Horizon Europe remains unknown. Many scientists and researchers started initiatives for a more suitable Horizon Europe budget. Initiative for Science in Europe and the European University Association are some of the examples - more than 800 universities in Europe signed the petition for raising the Horizon Europe’s budget to at least €120 billion. The next MFF must be unanimously agreed by the European Council and approved by the European Parliament. But, each Member State has veto power, which can postpone the planned implementation of Horizon Europe. No matter its uncertain budget, Horizon Europe should keep the EU at the forefront of global research and innovation by: - Improving the good features of H2020 by encouraging collaboration and offering more specific partnership possibilities - Applying the Open Science policies to make R&I results more visible, for scientists and citizens - Tackling specific problems in five mission areas, constantly raising public awareness on those issues - Distributing funds more equally, meaning that the underdeveloped countries and third countries should be more eligible to apply for calls More details about Horizon Europe and the novelties compared to Horizon 2020 in the article “Horizon Europe: introducing the EU’s new framework programme”:


Horizon Europe, Framework Programme, Multiannual Financial Framework, European Research Area, European Commission, 2021