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In Horizon Europe, the legislators have introduced the concept of Missions as a new means of addressing major societal challenges. The motivation for this new approach was to increase the impact of public investments in research and innovation activities, as well as to liaise better with citizens and raise the visibility of science, research and innovation. Missions will indicate a clear direction and objectives and be targeted, measurable, time-bound and have a clear budget frame. They will be programmed within the pillar 'Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness', but may also benefit from actions carried out within other parts of the Programme as well as from other EU, national and regional initiatives.
The five mission areas of Horizon Europe are:
- Adaptation to Climate Change, including Societal Transformation
- Healthy Oceans, Seas and Coastal and Inland Waters
- Climate-neutral and Smart Cities
- Soil Health and Food.
Mission Boards and Assemblies
For each mission area, a mission board has been established. The mandate of the mission boards is to propose targets and timelines to design the specific missions for Horizon Europe. Each mission board consists of 15 experts from innovation, research, policy making, civil society and practitioner organisations. The minutes of the meetings are provided here: Climate Change, Cancer, Healthy Oceans, Cities, Soil Health.
On 22 September 2020, the mission boards handed over their advice to the European Commission. Their mission proposals are:
- Conquering cancer, mission possible
- A Climate Resilient Europe - Prepare Europe for climate disruptions and accelerate the transformation to a climate resilient and just Europe by 2030
- Mission Starfish 2030: Restore our Ocean and Waters
- 100 Climate-Neutral Cities by 2030 - by and for the citizens
- Caring for soil is caring for life
Each mission area also has an assembly that will act as an additional pool of ideas, knowledge and expertise, gathering a larger number of high-level experts.
Communication on missions and implementation plans
On 29 September 2021, the European Commission published a Communication accompanied by implementation plans which sets out the five selected EU missions:
- Adaptation to Climate Change: support at least 150 European regions and communities to become climate resilient by 2030;
- Cancer: working with Europe's Beating Cancer Plan to improve the lives of more than 3 million people by 2030 through prevention, cure and solutions to live longer and better;
- Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030;
- 100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030;
- A Soil Deal for Europe: 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030.
The concept of missions is explained in a video by the European Commission.