In its proposal on Horizon Europe, the Commission has introduced the concept of Missions as a new means of implementation. 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. These issues were identified as areas for improvement in the Horizon 2020 interim evaluation, and they also reflect the recommendations by the High Level Panel chaired by Pascal Lamy.

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.

Mission Areas

Following an open call for contributions in 2018, the Commission came up with some concrete mission proposals that were discussed by Research Ministers on 15 October 2018. The five proposed mission areas are:

  • Adaptation to Climate Change, including Societal Transformation

  • Cancer

  • 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. heir mandate is to propose targets and timelines to design the specific missions for Horizon Europe. On 4 July 2019, at the Informal Council for Research Ministers in Helsinki, Commissioner Moedas announced the chairs of the mission boards. Each mission board consists of 15 experts from innovation, research, policy making, civil society and practitioner organisations. Their first meetings were held in September 2019. 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:

The Commission will announce its final selected missions in autumn 2021.

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.

The concept of missions is exlpained in a video by the European Commission