After the great success of Horizon 2020, the new program 2021-2027 dedicated to promoting scientific excellence in Europe, with various discussion topics, nicknamed Horizon Europe, is already on its way.  

Less than five months before the official launch, some Horizon Europe topics are still under discussion, meanwhile some details are starting to be much clearer, though not yet definitive.  

Horizon Europe and the new budget at the time of the coronavirus

In 2018, the European Commission proposed an ambitious budget of €100 billion for the Horizon Europe project. This was the Commission’s first proposal for the project’s budget.

During these two years, however, in addition to the various agreements between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council, the budget was also modified in view of the global health emergency Covid-19, which is still ongoing.

In a May 27, 2020 proposal, the European Commission outlined a €1,850 billion Recovery Plan. This plan aimed to lift the European economy out of the pandemic crisis. The proposal also involved providing additional funding for Horizon Europe.

That’s what it says in the document:

“Horizon Europe will be reinforced to fund vital research in health, resilience and the green and digital transitions. [..] Horizon Europe will amount to EUR 94.4 billion to increase European support for health and climate-related research and innovation activities. This will contribute to strengthened preparedness to effectively and rapidly respond to emergencies and investment in science-driven solutions.[..]

In the health domain, the reinforcement will be used to scale up the research effort for challenges such as the Coronavirus pandemic, the extension of clinical trials, innovative protective measures, virology, vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, and the translation of research findings into public health policy measures.

It is also proposed to scale up resources for research and innovation in climate-related domains. This will strengthen support for the competitiveness of EU industry in related economic sectors and promote a recovery consistent with the goals of the European Green Deal. The reinforcement will provide additional means for emerging and breakthrough innovations by small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups, and midcaps.”

The current financial envelope for Horizon Europe is €94.4 billion, based on 2018 prices. Of this, €80.9 billion will come from the traditional EU budget, while €13.5 billion is from the new Recovery Instrument.

European Member States involved and the UK issue

Brexit is becoming more and more a reality and consequently the UK is called ‘out’ of all European projects, including Horizon Europe. 

As a non-EU country, the UK’s involvement in Horizon Europe could be different. The planned budget distribution may exclude the UK. This is despite being one of the most involved countries in Horizon 2020.

As a result, at the beginning of the year, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, Youth, Sport, Mariya Gabriel said in a message to the Brexit negotiators in the United Kingdom: 

“When it comes to a post-Brexit deal on research cooperation, there can be no cherry picking.”

Horizon Europe together with the new mission areas

A new vision, in the light of the lessons learned from the previous Horizon 2020, is taking shape in the mission areas of Horizon Europe for the next 7 years that focus on the following themes:

  • Adaptation to climate change, including societal transformation
  • Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  • Climate-neutral and smart cities
  • Soil, health and food
  • Cancer

Discussion Topics in Horizon Europe

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