Horizon Europe

The future growth and prosperity of Europe relies on its ability to remain a global leader in research and innovation.

Horizon Europe, the 9th European framework programme for research and innovation, was launched in February 2021 under the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union. It has a budget of €95.571 billion for the next seven years  (2021– 2027). A follow-up to Horizon 2020, it aims to significantly contribute to bolstering the science and technology sectors within the European Union, in order to enable it to meet global challenges in crucial fields such as health, ageing, security, pollution and climate change.

In order to continuously stay on track between the priorities of the European Union (a green, climate-neutral Europe, a digital Europe and a resilient Europe), the European Recovery Plan and Horizon Europe, the European Commission has developed a strategic plan in conjunction with the member states.

It was approved on 15 March 2021 and defines the Key Strategic Orientations for research and innovation in Europe, and the expected impacts, for the first four years of the framework programme (2021–2024):

The strategic plan is the foundation for the work programmes that produce calls for proposals from the Commission, which, in turn, offer access to European grants. It also serves as the basis for seeking synergies with national and regional policies within member states.


The structure of the framework programme 

The Horizon Europe framework programme is structured around three pillars and relies on a transversal base that is intended to bolster the European research sector. It is also closely linked to research and development programmes pertaining to defence (the European Defence Fund, which has a budget of €7.9 billion) and the nuclear sector (the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2021–2025, which has a budget of €1.382 billion):

This second pillar encompasses European partnerships (institutionalised, co-funded or co-organised) which, unlike ‘classic’ calls for proposals from the Commission, require the signing of agreements between the European Commission and/or the member states and/or the private sector with a view to shared funding. A minimum of 50% of the budget for Pillar 2 will be allocated to funding European partnerships.

Pillar 2 will also include a new concept: missions that aim to integrate civil society (‘quadruple helix’) into the search for solutions to be used to tackle certain challenges. These were launched recently and focus on five themes:




Who is Horizon Europe aimed at?

Horizon Europe is aimed at any R&I stakeholders (universities and colleges, research centres, small, medium and large companies, public and private organisations, etc.) within member states and works on the basis of calls for proposals launched by the Commission. Funding of projects by the European Commission varies from 70% to 100% of the eligible costs, within the framework of the so-called ‘classic’ calls for proposals (excluding partnerships), which are generating more and more competition.


Who to contact?

Submitting a Horizon Europe project cannot be done on a whim. The European Commission has established a network of National Contact Points (NCP). One of their goals is to assist project leaders with preparing and submitting their projects. In the French Community of Belgium, two NCPs play this role: NCP Wallonia (pillars 2 and 3) and NCP FRS-FNRS (pillar 1).


What is SPW’s role in all this?

SPW Recherche participates in the framework programme in two ways:

It should be noted that SPW Recherche has decide to co-finance the following European partnerships: Health and Care Systems Transformation, High-Performance Computing, Key Digital Technologies (continuation of ECSEL), Clean Energy Transition, Innovative SMEs (continuation of Eurostars).

Each member state delegates representatives from its research and innovation administrations to the programme committees. Meetings of the programme committees, which are chaired by the European Commission, are held an average of four times per year and are structured around the themes included in the various pillars of the framework programme. Given the institutional set-up of Belgium, participation in the programme committees requires intra-Belgian consultation (known as CIS-CFS), which brings together federal (BELSPO), Flemish (EWI), Walloon, French-speaking (FWB) and Brussels (Innoviris) officials, as well as the Belgian NCPs.

The CIS are responsible for defining the Belgian position that must be defended during the programme committee, with Europe ‘hearing only the voice of the member states and not federal entities.’

In order to collect input from R&I stakeholders in Wallonia and help delegates to defend Wallonia’s position within meetings of the CIS-CFS and the European programme committees, Horizon Europe working groups (GT) were set up in June 2018. These working groups are coordinated by SPW Recherche, in collaboration with NCP Wallonia, and are chaired by the competitiveness clusters, with the exception of the Security working group, which is chaired by an academic. They are composed of the main R&I stakeholders in Wallonia and pursue the following goal: to further integrate Europe into Wallonia’s R&I strategy and to ensure that Wallonia plays a more active role than it currently does in the future research framework programme, thus contributing to revitalising and opening its economy up to the world. The Horizon Europe working groups prepare the participation of R&I stakeholders in the future research and innovation framework programme, by implementing structural actions aimed at better or more significant lobbying and better or more significant networking, that is, creating a framework that is conducive to the submission of projects and attracting more European funds. One of their first actions was to draft a position paper on the future framework programme and to participate in the consultations initiated by the European Commission concerning the development of the 9th framework programme. The definition of Wallonia’s positions is particularly linked to its Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3), which has recently been updated and should be approved by the Walloon government in the first quarter of 2021.


Who does what?

Strategic programme committee : Didier Flagother:

Pillar 1 : Excellent Science 

Pillar 2 : Global challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness

Pillar 3 : Innovative Europe

Chairing and coordination of the Walloon working groups (Pillar 2 of Horizon Europe)


Didier Flagothier

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