EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation


The European Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation are the European Union's (EU) main instruments for implementing its common scientific and innovation policy. The current, ninth Framework Programme, "Horizon Europe", runs from 2021 to 2027 and has a total budget of around EUR 95.5 billion. Horizon Europe officially began on 12 May 2021, but came into retroactive effect from 1 January 2021.

Legal basis

The EU's science and technology policy, which is set out in the treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, aims to make research in Europe a transnational activity, wherever appropriate. The intention is to share costs and pool resources for large-scale projects and to work together to find solutions to problems affecting the whole of Europe. European research objectives are thus subsidiary to the activities of individual member states in the areas of research and innovation.

The first EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation were introduced in 1984. Up to and including the sixth generation (2003–2006), the programmes ran over a period of four or five years. Since 2007, they have run for seven years. The ninth programme was launched under the name of "Horizon Europe" at the beginning of 2021.


Funding of the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (FPRI) is drawn from the regular contributions made by EU Member States to the EU. In addition, up to and including the eighth programme, associated countries made contributions based on their gross domestic product (GDP).

For the current ninth FPRI, the EU has envisaged a new funding mechanism. According to the new "pay as you go" principle, each associated country will in principle pay as much as its researchers are granted in EU project funding. The exact funding modalities are subject to the association negotiations between Switzerland and the EU.

Since their inception, FPRI budgets have continuously grown and the thematic priorities and instruments have been adapted according to social and political needs in Europe. Further information on these developments is provided in the Overview of all Framework Programmes.

Project proposals

Project proposals for the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation are submitted by researchers and innovators from one or several states working together, generally in response to specific EU research calls. These project proposals are reviewed by independent experts. Information about currently open calls and funding opportunities is published here EU's Funding and Tenders Portal.

Swiss participation

1 January 2004 is an important milestone in terms of Switzerland's participation in the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (FPRI). Before then, Swiss researchers taking part in FPRI projects had limited rights and received their funding directly from the Confederation. As of 2004, a corresponding bilateral agreement with the EU enabled Switzerland to participate in the 6th RPFI and the Euratom Research and Training Programme as an associated country with all rights and obligations. A similar bilateral agreement for full Swiss involvement in the 7th FPRI (2007–2013) was also concluded (see Overview of all Framework Programmes).

With associated country status, Switzerland was entitled to be represented in the project committees and the various steering committees. This gave Switzerland direct access to information and meant it could be involved in developing the current programme and in shaping future EU Framework Programmes and the European Research Area (ERA).

Full Swiss association was also planned for the 8th FPRI (Horizon 2020 package including Euratom). Following the outcome of the popular vote of 9 February 2014 on the mass immigration initiative and subsequent failure to sign the Croatia Protocol, the European Commission denied Switzerland full association to Horizon 2020. An agreement on partial association was signed instead on 5 December 2014, with retroactive effect from 15 September 2014. This partial association agreement remained in place until the end of 2016. Switzerland thus continued to take part as an associated state in certain aspects of Horizon 2020 until it became a fully associated member of the Horizon 2020 package including Euratom from 1 January 2017 (see Horizon 2020).

The latest, 9th FPRI (Horizon Europe) officially began on 12 May 2021 but came into retroactive effect from 1 January 2021. The specific conditions for Switzerland’s association will be set out in a separate EU negotiation mandate. Currently, Switzerland participates in Horizon Europe and other related programmes and initiatives as a non-associated third country until further notice. This status can be modified (see Horizon Europe).

Facts and figures on the Swiss participation

Participating in the European Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (FPRI), which are managed from Brussels, is one of the priorities of Swiss science policy. Researchers and innovators from Swiss universities and the private sector have been participating in the programmes since 1987 and the number of participants has continually increased. During the 3rd FPRI (1990–1994) 500 participants from Switzerland received total funding of around CHF 130 million. By the 6th FPRI the number of participants had increased to 1,900 and funding to almost CHF 800 million.

A look at the 8th FPRI (2014–2020) shows that researchers from Switzerland were also very successful in competing for EU research funds during those years: around CHF 2.58 billion in funding was allocated to Switzerland (as per September 2020). Swiss projects also had the sixth highest success rate (applications that received funding) over this period.

For further information on Swiss FPRI participation and its importance for Switzerland see Facts and figures on the Swiss participation.

The role of SERI

The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) represents Switzerland and defines the strategic and operative measures necessary for Swiss participation in the EU Framework Programmes. It promotes Swiss interests in the various programme committees of the European Commission and helps shape the strategic orientation of initiatives and programmes. In addition, it monitors the evaluation procedures of the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation and represents Switzerland in the European Research Area (ERA) and its associated bodies.

SERI mandates and funds the Euresearch information network, which provides practical information and advice to researchers and innovators from the private and public sector interested taking part in EU Framework Programmes.