Orientations towards the first Strategic Plan implementing the research and innovation framework programme Horizon Europe

by michael rogers

Horizon Europe will be based on two legal acts: one laying down its structure, rules for participation and dissemination, the other containing the Specific Programme that sets out thematic clusters and the broad lines of action for future research and innovation activities. In April 2019 the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the two legal acts.

According to this agreement, Horizon Europe will be structured in three pillars, supported by activities aimed at widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area.:

· Pillar I, Excellent Science will reinforce EU scientific leadership through the European Research Council (ERC), Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and Research Infrastructures.

· Pillar II, Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness will take forward the societal challenges and enabling and industrial technologies to better address EU and global policy priorities and accelerate industrial transformation. Pillar II includes six broad thematic “clusters” of activities.

· Pillar III, Innovative Europe, focuses on stimulating, nurturing and deploying disruptive and market-creating innovations, and on enhancing European ecosystems conducive to innovation, including through the new European Innovation Council.


In line with the political agreement between the Council and the Parliament, the preparation of the Strategic Plan, referred to as the strategic planning process, will focus in particular on the pillar ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’ and its six thematic clusters, while also including relevant activities in the other two pillars and the part ‘Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area’.

The first Horizon Europe Strategic Plan will facilitate the implementation of Horizon Europe by acting as a bridge between the Horizon Europe Specific Programme and the future, multiannual work programmes that will contain the calls and topics to which interested parties can apply. The Strategic Plan will set out key strategic orientations for the support to research and innovation, including a description of targeted impacts, cross-cluster issues and intervention areas covered.

It will also identify missions and European Partnerships. As such, the plan will not repeat the rationale of the Horizon Europe Specific Programme, nor the intervention logic that led to the component parts of the programme. Rather, taking the Specific Programme as a starting point, it will identify the major policy drivers, the strategic policy priorities, and the targeted impacts to be achieved, focussing on those elements within the Specific Programme that should be supported from 2021 to 2024.

The projects supported in the first four years of Horizon Europe will normally be completed after 2025. As it takes time to transform new ideas to concrete actions, the planning process focuses on identifying the impacts targeted with European research and innovation from 2030 onwards. The strategic planning process will also include close coordination and synergy with the planning of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and consider the balance of research and innovation activities, so to promote technological, non-technological and social innovation as appropriate in view of the targeted impact.

At a later stage, the strategic planning process will address synergies between Horizon Europe and other Union programmes thus becoming a point of reference for research and innovation in all related programmes across the EU budget and non-funding instruments. It will also provide the framework for linking the direct actions of the Joint Research Centre and other actions supported under Horizon Europe, including the use of results and data for support to policy. Further details on the international cooperation strategy and targeted impacts for international cooperation will also be added.

Interested in more – read the Orientations document in full at https://ec.europa.eu/research/pdf/horizon-europe/ec_rtd_orientations-towards-the-strategic-planning.pdf and participate in the questionanaire online at https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/HorizonEurope_Codesign_2021-2024 headed Horizon Europe Co-design 2021-2024

And don’t forget to let your own chapter and groups, as well as the MCAA Policy Working Group know your views.