Research: MEPs reach deal with Council on Horizon Europe programme 

Press Releases 
  • Horizon Europe on course to start on January 1, 2021 
  • MEPs obtain an additional 1bn for the European Research Council (ERC) 
  • EP secured distribution of extra 4 billion euros across key parts 
  • EP inserts clauses on freedom of research and strengthens Seal of Excellence 

Horizon Europe will help EU’s health system prepare for future pandemics, and industry to decarbonise and innovate, after MEPs and Council came to an informal agreement on Friday.

"We really needed this agreement, and we managed to deliver a strong and well financed programme for research and innovation, that will start in time" said Dan Nica (S&D, RO), rapporteur on the Horizon Europe regulation. "Money channelled through the Horizon 2020 helped find a vaccine against COVID-19. The Parliament insisted on an ambitious investment in research and innovation and ensured budgetary stability and predictability in order to have a Horizon Europe programme that will deliver on the future challenges. The budget increase for Horizon with the €5,4 billion from New Generation Europe and the extra €4 billion from the multiannual financial framework (MFF) will ensure investment in resilience both for short term and long term: basic research (through the ERC), the fight against climate change, digitalisation, the support for innovative SMEs and the support for the European Research infrastructure" he said.

"Finding an agreement was not an easy task. Yet, we expect research and innovation to have an impact and make a difference in many important challenges. Horizon Europe’s contribution will help us overcome the health crisis, the economic crisis, decarbonise and digitalise our economy, no less! Horizon Europe can create opportunities for young talents, small and medium entrepreneurs,

Citizens, businesses, social partners and the research and knowledge community will have to work in the same team. We cannot miss the opportunity to lead in all these challenges." M. Nica added.

"Finally, we achieved an ambitious and balanced budget which strongly supports fundamental research as well as thematic research” said Christian Ehler (EPP, DE) rapporteur on the Horizon Europe specific programme. "It includes an additional €1bn for the European Research Council and the highest budget ever for digital topics. For the first time there is also a specific budget for Europe's cultural and creative industries" he said.

"With this agreement, the EU has also committed legally to defend academic freedom across the continent. There is no doubt that this deal reflects the needs of the European research and innovation community. It will invariably translate into a higher quality of life for our European citizens" M. Ehler added.

Industry, Research and Energy committee Chair Cristian Bușoi (EPP, RO) said: "The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated that research and innovation (R&I) is a driver for our recovery. We rely on R&I to become resilient for future crisis and to address challenges such as cancer and antimicrobial-resistance, but also to adapt to our globalized world, fight climate change and to prepare a better and greener future for next generations. But to achieve all these ambitions we require an ambitious programme. I believe that this is what we have achieved to deliver today".

Next steps

The informal agreement will be confirmed in the Industry, Research and Energy committee later this month. Since the European Parliament had insisted to have a Partial Agreement already in April 2019, the whole programme is in position to be finalised and to start on the 1st of January 2021.


Horizon Europe builds on the current programme Horizon 2020. The programme will receive a budget of over €95 billion for the 2021-2027 period for Horizon Europe, together with possible investments coming from the Invest EU Fund and from the Euratom Research and Training Programme.

Horizon Europe will be implemented through three pillars:

  • The Open Science pillar will support frontier research projects defined and driven by researchers themselves through the European Research Council (ERC), funds fellowships and exchanges for researchers through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, and invests in research infrastructures.

  • The Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness pillar will directly support research relating to societal challenges, technological and industrial capacities, and will set EU-wide research missions. It also includes activities pursued by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) which supports EU and national policymakers with independent scientific evidence and technical support.

  • The Open Innovation pillar aims to make Europe a frontrunner in market-creating innovation. It also aims, by further strengthening the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), to foster the integration of business, research, higher education and entrepreneurship.

The programme also aims to strengthen and widen the participation in the European Research Area.