EU Research and Innovation Partnerships have been used since FP6 to optimise the contribution of public and private players in achieving sustainable growth and competitiveness and addressing societal challenges, and to ensure that national policies and EU policy are mutually consistent. The discussions at the Informal Meeting of Ministers of July 2017 resulted in a general recognition by the Member States of the continued relevance of Partnerships, and called for a reformed approach tackling the complexity of the landscape and ensuring its coherence and optimal coordination.

The Council Conclusions of 1 December 2017 (18-20) provide guidance for rationalising the partnership landscape: R&I partnerships in the FP should be implemented based on the principles of EU added value, transparency, openness, impact, leverage effect, long-term financial commitment of all the involved parties, flexibility, coherence, and complementarity with EU, national and regional initiatives. All partnership initiatives should have an exit strategy from FP funding.

As a follow-up, an ERAC Ad-hoc Working Group on Partnerships was established in 2018. Its mandate was to propose e.g. criteria for selecting, implementing, monitoring and phasing out the R&I partnerships based on the guiding principles, options for rationalising the R&I partnership landscape and the set-up and implementation of this process.

European partnerships are created only in cases where they are able to achieve the objectives of Horizon Europe more effectively than could be accomplished through other activities within the framework programme.

There are 3 types of European Partnerships:

  • Co-programmed partnerships
  • Co-funded partnerships
  • Institutionalised partnerships

In May 2019, the European Commission launched a consultation of Member States on possible candidates for European Partnerships as part of a strategic coordinating process. The list of European Partnerships is found in Annex 7 of the Orientations towards the first Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe.

On 19 November 2021, Research Ministers adopted a regulation on 9 Joint Undertakings based on Art. 187 TFEU and a regulation on the European Partnership on Metrology based on Art. 185 TFEU.

On 17 July 2023, the Commission published a list of Partnership Candidates for the Second Strategic Plan of Horizon Europe (2025-2027). These proposed partnerships will be discussed with Member States and Associated Countries in the coming months and may be subject to further changes. A final decision will be taken at the end of 2023.

In 2021, the Partnership Knowledge Hub was established. It is a formal structure for collaboration between the Commission and the authorities responsible for the national coordination and participation in EU R&I partnerships from Member States and Associated Countries. The group’s role is to advise the Commission in the implementation of the strategic coordinating process for EU R&I partnerships, as well as to provide a forum for coordination and cooperation with Member States and related stakeholders.

A diagram showing an overview of all 49 partnerships of the first half of Horizon Europe can be found under "DOWNLOADS" below.