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

Less than five months before the official launch, some Horizon Europe topics are still under discussion, while 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, a first very ambitious proposal from the European Commission regarding the budget for the Horizon Europe project was €100 billion.

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 the proposal of May 27th 2020, in fact, EUR 1,850 billion Recovery Plan to lift the economy out of the pandemic crisis also involved 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.”


At the moment, therefore, it is a financial envelope of EUR 94,4 billion in 2018 prices, of which 80.9 from the traditional common budget and 13,5 from the new Recovery Instrument.


European Member States involved and the UK issue

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

In this sense, the distribution of the planned budget could exclude one of the countries most involved in the previous Horizon 2020, which will be treated like any other non-EU member.

In this regard, 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 and 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