Horizon Europe

9th EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

Dispatch on funding

State of play Horizon Europe


The European Union’s 9th Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, runs from 2021 to 2027. It will remain the largest research and innovation funding programme in the world and is the most ambitious such programme in the history of the EU so far. European institutions are currently agreeing the legal, financial and strategic details of the programme. As it is not an EU member state, Switzerland does not take part in these discussions.

Horizon Europe – main features

Horizon Europe will be the most ambitious research and innovation funding programme in the history of European Union. Excellence in science will continue to be funded and advanced by the European Research Council and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grants. Knowledge-based innovations and support by the European Innovation Council will drive forward the EU’s industrial competitiveness and innovative performance. The overall aim of the new research programme is to expand the EU’s science and technology base by investing more in highly qualified workers and cutting-edge research. Horizon Europe will help in achieving the EU’s strategic priorities, such as implementing the Paris Climate Agreement and addressing other global challenges. The Horizon Europe programme is also guided by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What’s new

Horizon Europe will be organised somewhat differently to former programmes (Horizon 2020; 2014–2020) and include new elements and simplifications:

  • After a two-year pilot phase, the European Innovation Council will become an integral part of Horizon Europe, with its own governance structures and research promotion instruments.
  • A new element in Horizon Europe is the five EU-wide research and innovation mission areas that aim to address major societal challenges, such as the spread of cancer and climate change, through ambitious and applied research and innovation activities conducted over the long term. These mission areas are devised with input from citizens, stakeholders, the European Parliament and member states.
  • Open Science will be the new modus operandi in Horizon Europe. The Open Access policy already applied in Horizon 2020 will be developed.
  • European partnerships will be streamlined and consolidated.
  • Simpler rules will increase legal certainty and reduce red tape for funding recipients and programme managers.


Like Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe is structured into three pillars:

  • The first pillar, Excellent Science, funds basic research and ground-breaking research projects via the European Research Council. It also includes grant funding via the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions and investment in world-class research infrastructures.
  • The second pillar, Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness, directly funds research related to social challenges and expands technological and industrial capacities. In addition, this pillar encompasses the EU-wide mission areas (see above), which are designed to find solutions to the major problems of our time and to advance the strategic priorities of the European Union and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also includes the activities of the Joint Research Centre, which provides independent scientific and technical support to policymakers in the EU and its member states.
  • The third pillar, Innovative Europe, aims to make Europe a leader in science-based innovation, with a major role being played by the European Innovation Council. This pillar will contribute to the development of the entire European innovation landscape, promoting the role of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and the involvement of businesses, research, higher education and entrepreneurship.

Proposed structure of Horizon Europe


Source: European Commission

Switzerland’s participation

Horizon Europe is still in the preparatory phase. The EU institutions concerned are currently discussing the budget, legal basis and details of the programme. As a non-EU member state, Switzerland does not take part in these consultations.

Switzerland and the EU share long-standing and successful cooperation ties in the area of research and innovation. Swiss participation in the EU research framework programmes is part of the first series of bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU that came into effect in 2002. It does not involve market access issues and is therefore not part of the current discussions on an institutional framework agreement. Switzerland thus expects to be able to participate in Horizon Europe and is committed to this objective.

SERI publishes regular updates on Horizon Europe (see Further information).

Further information