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European Partnerships under Horizon Europe

Research partnerships, particularly those involving industry, take up billions in EU research funds. With the current Horizon 2020 programme finishing at the end of 2020, there is currently no confirmation of what partnerships will be funded in Horizon Europe.

However, as gathered from recent meetings in preparation for the new upcoming framework programme, the Commission is looking towards implementing a new generation of objective-driven and more ambitious partnerships in support of EU policy objectives.

It proposes to rationalise the European R&I partnerships landscape, improve the openness and transparency of R&I partnerships and link the R&I partnerships to future EU R&I missions and/or strategic priorities.

Although the legislation underpinning Horizon Europe is mostly settled, partnerships will be designed as part of a lengthy Strategic Planning process, in which a series of successive drafts of the implementation plan will be exchanged between the Commission and the Council.

Under Horizon 2020 there are currently four main types of partnership: Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), Public-to-Public Partnerships (P2P), European Institute of Innovation and Technology KICs (EIT-KICs) and Future Emerging Technologies Flagships (FET).

The new approach seeks to group these partnerships in Horizon Europe in the following way:


Co-funded European Partnerships will be based on a joint programme agreed by partners; commitment of partners for financial and in kind contributions & financial contribution by Horizon Europe

Institutionalized European Partnerships will be based on long term dimension and need for high integration; partnerships based on Articles 185 / 187 of TFEU and the EIT Regulation supported by Horizon Europe

Co-programmed European Partnerships will be between the EU, Member States/ Associated Countries, and/or other stakeholders, based on Memoranda of Understanding or contractual arrangements with partners (cPPP model).

The new groupings are designed to create fewer partnerships, indeed, as of now, the number of potential partnerships is reduced to approximately 1/3 of the number previously formed under Horizon 2020 (>120 to 44).  However, the partnerships will come from a broader set of actors with higher impact and improved visibility. They will also contribute to higher openness of Europe’s R&I ecosystems.

Last March, six core topics, or clusters, were agreed related to partnerships: Health; Culture, creativity and inclusive society; Civil security for society; Digital, industry and space; Climate, energy, and mobility and Food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment.  As reported by Science Business, the core topics/clusters currently leads to a preliminary list of 44 partnerships which include candidates for European Partnerships in Pillar II, III and cross- pillar. As strategic planning rolls on, more partnerships may be suggested for the other clusters, while those suggested so far could be changed, added-to or scrapped.

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