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Preparations for Horizon Europe’s implementation

As Horizon Europe is just one step away from its formal adoption, pending the European Parliament’s approval of the Council’s position adopted on 16 March, the European Commission is preparing for its implementation.

On 16 March, the Commission adopted its first strategic plan for Horizon Europe, which sets four strategic orientations for R&I investments in 2021-2024:

  • 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.

The strategic plan identifies the European co-funded and co-programmed partnerships and the EU missions to be supported though Horizon Europe, and puts forward several horizontal issues such as gender. The first calls for proposals are planned to be launched in April 2021 and will be presented at the European Research and Innovation Days on 23-24 June.

On another front, the college of commissioners approved the new organigramme of the Commission’s Directorate for Research and Innovation (DG RTD), which will see ca. 15% of its staff moving to executive agencies. The new organigramme will come into force on 1 April 2021. This strategic choice is driven by the push to entrust executive agencies with the implementation of the projects and to focus the work of the Directorates-General on policy development and closer collaboration with member states. Both Research Executive Agency (REA) and Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), are expected to expand their staff in the coming months. Yet these staff changes come at a crucial moment marked by the launch of the new EU funding programmes and could potentially affect their continuity and implementation in the first phase.