Horizon Europe is the 9th EU Research Framework Programme for the period 2021 to 2027, the successor programme to Horizon 2020 (2014-2020). The programme aims to help build a competitive economy, contribute to more growth and jobs in Europe, and help Europe address major societal challenges. Another key objective is to promote excellence in European science. To this end, €95.5 billion (in current prices) is available for the programme period 2021-2027, 30% more than in the previous generation of programmes.

Horizon Europe covers the entire chain from basic research and innovation to the market. The content of the programme is geared towards important societal issues such as health, sustainable development and digitalisation.  The new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation will also facilitate transnational project cooperation – at European level, but also globally.

The structure of Horizon Europe


Horizon Europe rests on three pillars:

  •  Excellent Science
  • Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness
  • Innovative Europe

They are complemented by the area “Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area“.

Excellent Science

This pillar includes programmes for thematically non-specified (individual) funding, such as the funding of science-driven basic research by the European Research Council (ERC), the networking of existing research infrastructures, and mobility grants for young researchers (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, MSCA).

Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness

The second pillar comprises six clusters and promotes projects that address major societal challenges:

  • Health
  • Culture, creativity and an inclusive society
  • Civil security for society
  • Digitalisation, industry and space
  • Climate, energy and mobility
  • Food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment

Innovative Europe

The instruments focusing on innovation and market uptake are located in the third pillar. These are the European Innovation Council (EIC), the “European Innovation Ecosystems” and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area:

This overarching programme area is designed, among other things, to promote the competitiveness of member states with weaker research and to strengthen the European Research Area as a whole.

Time schedule:

The legal texts for Horizon Europe are in the final adoption process (as of March 2021); they will apply retroactively from the start of the programme in January 2021. In addition, the legal text for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is being negotiated in a parallel legislative process. The work programmes for the Horizon Europe programme are expected to be published in spring 2021. The first work programmes for the European Research Council (ERC) and the European Innovation Council (EIC) have already been published.

Detailed information on Horizon Europe

EU Commission Website on Horizon Europe

In Germany, the EU Office of the BMBF and the EU Cooperation Office of the science organisations (KoWi) provide information and advice on applying for Horizon Europe (only available in German):
Startseite – EU-Büro des BMBF (eubuero.de)
KoWi – Kooperationsstelle EU der Wissenschaftsorganisationen

Relevant documents to the research programme:

Fact Sheet on Horizon Europe
Orientations towards the first Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe
The first calls for proposals: The ERC Work Programme
Archive article of the Brussels Branch: The EU Programme Horizon 2020 | Brussels (daad-brussels.eu)