15 Mar 2021
EC adopts first Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe
On 15 March 2021, the European Commission adopted the first Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe. The Strategic Plan is a novelty in Horizon Europe and sets the strategic orientations for the targeting of investments in the programme's first four years. It ensures that EU research and innovation actions contribute to EU priorities, including a climate-neutral and green Europe, a Europe fit for the digital age, and an economy that works for people. The Strategic Plan was prepared following an extensive co-design process involving the European Parliament, the Member States, stakeholders and the general public.
The Strategic Plan sets out four strategic orientations for research and innovation investments under Horizon Europe for the next four years:
- Promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains;
- Restoring Europe's ecosystems and biodiversity, and managing sustainably natural resources;
- Making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy;
- Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society.
International cooperation underpins all four orientations, as it is essential for tackling many global challenges.
The Strategic Plan also identifies the European co-funded and co-programmed partnerships and the EU missions to be supported though Horizon Europe. The partnerships will cover critical areas such as energy, transport, biodiversity, health, food and circularity, and will complement the ten Institutionalised Partnerships proposed by the Commission in February. EU missions will address global challenges that affect our daily lives by setting ambitious and inspirational but achievable goals like fighting cancer, adapting to climate change, protecting our oceans, making cities greener and ensuring soil health and food. Employing a large portfolio of instruments across diverse disciplines and policy areas, the EU missions will tackle complex issues through research projects, policy measures or even legislative initiatives.
The plan's orientations also address a number of horizontal issues, such as gender. The integration of the gender dimension will be a requirement by default in research and innovation content across the whole programme, unless it is specified that sex or gender may not be relevant for the topic at stake. The priorities set out in the Strategic Plan will be implemented through the Horizon Europe work programme. It sets out funding opportunities for research and innovation activities through thematic calls for proposals and topics. The Commission states that the first calls for proposals will be launched in the spring of 2021 and will be presented at the European R&I Days on 23-24 June 2021.
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