Horizon Europe

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Image Credit: European Commission


On the 7 June 2018, the European Commission launched a proposal governing the next 2021-2027 Framework Programme for EU research and innovation. The proposal, titled ‘Horizon Europe’, is built on the premise that research and innovation (R&I) delivers on the priorities of citizens’, boosts the Union’s productivity and competitiveness, is crucial for sustaining the EU’s socio-economic model and values, and enables solutions to challenges in a systemic way.  

 The Horizon Europe package consists of the following three proposals:


  • a Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon Europe), including laying down its rules for participation and dissemination (as per Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – ‘TFEU’);
  •  a specific programme to implement Horizon Europe (‘TFEU’);
  •  a Research and Training Programme under the Euratom Treaty


    The primary objectives of Horizon Europe are to strengthen the EU’s scientific and technological bases, contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and boost the Union’s competitiveness. Moreover, Horizon Europe aims to help deliver on the Union’s strategic priorities and supports the development and implementation of the Union’s policies.




    The debate surrounding the budget for the new EU Framework Programme is part of the wider deliberations on the general budget of the European Union. Horizon Europe will also take into account the UK’s exit of the EU and the implications this has on the amount of available funding.


    The European Commission has suggested a budget of 91.4 billion Euros for Horizon Europe. The European Parliament, in contrast, has called for a budget of 120 billion Euros.




    Despite Horizon Europe intending to continue using the three-pillar structure established under Horizon 2020, the titles of the pillars, as well as their scope, will change this time round.




    Missions are a key novelty of Horizon Europe and aim to reconnect EU research with citizens by setting inspirational goals (as with President Kennedy’s ‘man on the moon’ mission). The Commission believes that missions must have a direct link to positive experiences of citizens.


    According to the criteria of Article 7 of the Horizon Europe proposal, missions must: have a clear EU-added value and contribute to reaching Union priorities; be bold and inspirational, and hence have wide societal or economic relevance; indicate a clear direction and be targeted, measurable and time-bound; be centred on ambitious but realistic research and innovation activities; spark activity across disciplines, sectors and actors; be open to multiple, bottom-up solutions. The Commission also considers that missions should connect with stakeholders and citizens, and should be mainly achievable via research and innovation.


    The proposed prospective Mission areas are as follows:


  •  Climate Change
  •  Cancer
  •  Oceans
  •  Carbon neutrality
  •  Food


    Timeline of negotiations


    The Maltese government, during negotiations in the EU Council, has and continues to be assisted and guided by MCST and its experts.


    The EU is aiming to agree on the final text of framework programme prior to the European elections in May 2019.




    MCST’s policy experts on Horizon Europe are Ian Gauci Borda and Matthew Lowell.


This article was last updated on: March 13, 2019