On 2nd May 2018, the European Commission published its proposal for Horizon Europe, an ambitious €100 billion research and innovation programme that will replace Horizon 2020. This programme was presented as part of the EU's proposal for the next EU long-term budget, the Multiannual financial framework (MFF). The new MFF has been presented as a response to today's reality in which Europe is expected to play a greater role in providing security and stability in an unstable world, at a time when Brexit will leave a sizeable gap in EU budget.


Horizon Europe, will help Europe remain at the forefront of global research and innovation (R&I) and to strengthen the EU's scientific and technological bases, to boost Europe's innovation capacity, competitiveness and jobs and to deliver on citizens' priorities and sustain its socio-economic model and values (Figure 1). As highlighted in the report of the High-Level Group, investment in research and innovation will allow the European Union to compete with other developed and emerging economies, ensure a prosperous future for its citizens, and preserve its unique social model. Building on the success of Horizon 2020, the new programme will continue to promote research excellence and strengthen the focus on innovation, for instance through the development of prototypes, intangible assets, knowledge and technology transfer.

Fig 1 Horizon europe

Figure 1. Added values through Horizon Europe. Source: European Commission.

Horizon Europe will be structured under three pillars (Figure 2): Open source, Global challenges and Industrial Competitiveness, and Open Innovation. Current Horizon 2020 Societal challenges 2 (SC 2) topics are proposed under the €52.7 bn worth Pillar 2 “Global challenges and Industrial Competitiveness”, and within the cluster 5, “Food and natural resources”, (Figure 2). Cluster 5, which addresses interlinked challenges of natural systems, planetary health and sustainable production and consumption, comprises 7 intervention areas: Agriculture, forestry and rural areas, Sea and oceans, Food systems, and Bio-based systems (representing the Horizon 2020 SC 2), and Environmental observation, Biodiversity and natural capitals, and Circular systems (representing the part of Horizon 2020 SC 5). €10 bn have been allocated to R&I on food, agriculture, rural development and the bioeconomy (under Cluster 5 on Food and Natural Resources). 


Fig 2 Horizon Europe

Figure 2. Specific objectives of Horizon Europe. Source: European Commission

The multi-actor projects and Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) are expected to continue under the Horizon Europe funding scheme, together with the enhanced links between R&I activities and EU policies. This comprehensive approach should tackle the challenges in the future research setting the climate change as the high priority of Horizon Europe programme. Furthermore, with knowledge, innovation and digitalization as cross-cutting objectives (Art. 5) and greater focus on research, technology and digitisation as specific objectives (Art. 6) of the Common agricultural policy (CAP) including the contribution in the setting-up of AKIS and development of digital technologies as part of CAP strategic plans on regional level (Art. 102), the synergy between the new Horizon Europe programme, i.e. science, and CAP post 2020, i.e. practice, is crucial to achieve overall EU’s R&I goals. The EIP-AGRI will continue to act as a bridge to ensure the links and pool funding sources from Horizon Europe and CAP rural development in order to foster competitive and sustainable farming and forestry, mostly through their operational groups set with a specific purpose of bringing R&I projects results directly to end-users.