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Global Science

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Introduction to Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is a new framework programme for financing research and innovation in the European Union. According to the European Commission proposal, this program will be in practice from 2014 to 2020, with a dedicated budget of €79 billion[1]. Horizon 2020 was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council at the end of November/beginning of December 2013 in time for the first calls to be published on 11 December 2013. Horizon 2020 is part of the greater initiative to stimulate economic growth in Europe and boost employment opportunities, while at the same time strengthen and expand the Union’s scientific and technological base.

Presenting Horizon 2020, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “Horizon 2020 provides direct stimulus to the economy and secures our science and technology base and industrial competitiveness for the future, promising a smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive society.”[3]

Key objectives of Horizon 2020[4]

Stronger emphasis on tackling societal challenges facing Europe
Funding will be focused on the following areas:

  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research, bio-economy
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy
  • Smart, green and integrated transport
  • Inclusive, innovative and secure societies
  • Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials

A more integrated approach to research and innovation 
Bringing together of research and innovation funding under a single programme

Easier access to funding thanks to simplified programme structure and a single set of rules and procedures

More possibilities and simplified participation of top researchers, scientists and innovative businesses


International Cooperation

International cooperation in research and innovation is a crucial part of Horizon 2020, which serves as a means for the European Union to achieve its higher level objectives. This requires joint action and sustained collaboration between EU countries as well as those outside the Union’s borders.

The core principles of the EU International Strategy for Research and Innovation[5] are the following:

  • Tackling global societal challenges such as climate change, sustainable agriculture and clean energy
  • Creating a continuous support for the Union’s external policies
  • Enhancing the Union’s excellence in research and innovation; and sustaining its economic competitiveness
  • Establishing a stronger partnership with Member States
  • Setting common principles for conduct of international cooperation
  • Developing a stronger role for Union in international organisations and multilateral fora
  • Ensuring a strengthened implementation, governance, monitoring and evaluation

Principle of general openness

Horizon 2020 is open to entities from all over the world, including acceding countries, candidate countries as well as potential candidate countries and selected third countries that fulfil the relevant requirements (capacity, track record, close economic and geographical links to the Union, etc.). [6] Thanks to the open nature of the programme, European researchers are free to cooperate with experts from third countries on topics of their own choice. These collaborative efforts should result in high quality research and an innovative move towards tackling the issues transnational in nature. Specific countries/regions will be invited to cooperate with the EU Member States through targeted actions, with the aim of addressing specific issues and/or topic areas.





[1] European Commission, ‘The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation’ (2012)

[3] Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (2011)

[4] European Parliament - ITRE Parliamentary Committee, ‘Horizon 2020’ (2012)

[5] European Commission, ‘EU International Strategy for Research and Innovation’ (2012)

[6] European Commission, ‘Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council Establishing Horizon 2020 - The Framework Programme For Research And Innovation (2014-2020) - Article 7 Association of third countries’ (2011)