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Horizon Europe : Council presidency reaches political agreement with the European Parliament

The EU has come closer to adopting its next multiannual framework programme for research and innovation. The German presidency of the Council recently (11 December 2020) reached a provisional political agreement with the European Parliament's negotiators on the proposed regulation establishing Horizon Europe, the EU framework programme for research and innovation for the years 2021 to 2027. 

Anja Karliczek, German federal minister of education and research recently said:

“I am delighted that the Council has been able to reach a political agreement with the European Parliament on Horizon Europe. This new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for the period 2021 to 2027 provides a strong signal by the European Union for a competitive and forward-looking Europe. It is clear that we will only be able to overcome the major challenges of our time, such as the COVID-19 crisis and climate change, as a community and with the combined efforts of all the member states. It is thus all the more important that the Horizon Europe programme can start as soon as possible.”

The main elements contained in the provisionally agreed text include:

  • Budgetary issues : these refer to the internal break-down of Horizon Europe's overall budget, including additional funds ("tops-ups") stemming from margins under the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) ceilings and from competition fines. The provisional agreement also specifies how funds under the EU recovery instrument entitled Next Generation EU should be made available;
  • Synergies with other EU programmes : the negotiators agreed to bring most of synergies-related provisions into a single article and found common ground on how various other EU programmes should support and complement Horizon Europe;
  • International cooperation and association of third countries : the provisional agreement strikes a balance between openness and attractiveness vis-à-vis international partners,  on the one hand, and reciprocity and protection of the EU's strategic interests, on the other. By way of example, it mentions respect of human rights as one of the specific criteria for the association of third countries to Horizon Europe.

Next steps

The provisionally agreed text will be submitted to the Council's permanent representatives committee for analysis on 18 December 2020.  Following political endorsement by both the Council and the European Parliament, it will be the basis for the future adoption of the proposed regulation at second reading. The regulation cannot be formally adopted before the formal adoption of the EU's MFF for 2021-2027.


The Horizon Europe regulation, proposed by the Commission in June 2018, establishes the EU framework programme for research and innovation for the years 2021–2027. It lays down the objectives, the budget, the forms of EU funding and the rules for providing such funding in the field of research and innovation.

The decision on the specific programme implementing Horizon Europe, also proposed by the Commission in June 2018 as part of the Horizon Europe package, sets out the operational objectives and types of activities envisaged for implementing Horizon Europe.

On 4 June 2020, the Commission presented amended proposals for both legal acts to allow additional funding from the EU recovery instrument entitled Next Generation EU (NGEU) to flow to Horizon Europe.

On 21 July 2020, the heads of state or  government agreed on the recovery plan for Europe, which combines the MFF for the years 2021-2027 and the funds to be made available through the NGEU. The political agreement reached between the Council and the European Parliament on the MFF on 10 November 2020 provided for a further reinforcement of Horizon Europe through additional means and reallocations in the course of the next financial period

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