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EU Financing / Budgetary Affairs, PUBLICATIONS

How the Budget is spent: Horizon 2020

Written by Ana Claudia Alfieri,

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Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) – is the successor to seven previous framework programmes. With a budget of over €70 billion, it is unique in the world, not only in terms of budget, but also duration and scope. As the main instrument financing research and innovation in the European Union, it has, since 2014, supported more than 13 000 projects carried by about 340 000 researchers in more than 130 participating countries.

The general objective of Horizon 2020 is to help to build a society and an economy based on knowledge and innovation and to contribute towards the target of spending 3 % of EU gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development, by financing the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Research Area (ERA).

The programme has three main priorities:

‘Excellent science’ serves to support individual and team research in subjects at the frontier of science, improving the researchers’ career opportunities and developing excellent research infrastructures.

‘Industrial leadership’ aims at supporting the development of new technologies and innovations that will enable the companies of the future, while facilitating access to venture capital and helping innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to become world-leading enterprises.

‘Societal challenges’ targets the policy priorities and societal challenges of the Europe 2020 strategy. It supports research and innovation in those areas that will become critical in the near future or will strongly affect the lives of EU citizens.

Horizon 2020 is one of the most attractive and successful EU programmes. However, there is significant oversubscription, meaning that only 11.6 % of proposals win funding, compared to 18.4 % in the 7th Framework Programme. Additional budget could perhaps have resulted in more high-quality projects gaining funding.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Horizon 2020‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Figure 1 – Financial allocation of Horizon 2020, 2014-2020, in € millions

Financial allocation of Horizon 2020, 2014-2020, in € millions

Table 1 – Priorities and specific objectives of Horizon 2020

Priorities and specific objectives of Horizon 2020


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