A little bit more than two months after its official budget adoption by the European Parliament and seven years after its predecessor Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe’s first work programme 2021-2022 was officially published in mid-June 2021.
The European Commission’s investment plan for the upcoming months gives an insight into how the first actions from the programme’s 2021-2024 strategic plan will be implemented and provides that €14.7 billion out of the total €95.5 billion will be allocated over 2021-2022.
Ensuring Europe’s recovery is achieved under NextGeneratioEU’s green and sustainable principles while harnessing new digital opportunities are the Commission’s top priorities. With the aim to make Europe the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050, the Commission also plans to invest around €5.8 billion in Green Deal related R&I while investing about €4 billion in digital innovations.
The crucial need for stronger International cooperation also constitutes a key element to the recently released work programme and will be an urge to stand by the Commission’s Global Approach to Research & Innovation.
On a more specific note, the MSCA body – whose actions strongly revolve around more gender equality in research as well as providing greater opportunities to young researchers – was allocated a €6.6 billion budget for the entire MFF term and €822 million for 2021 alone to be invested in its 5 key action fields.
“Question mark” over Switzerland’s participation in Horizon Europe
Simultaneously, parallel negotiations are casting a shadow upon the above-mentioned encouraging events. As a matter of fact, while the UK participation in the newest European R&I programme as an associated third country has been well prepared, thought over and now ensured, the same consideration may well not be applied to associated Schengen member state Switzerland.
In the recently published Horizon Europe Programme Guide, Switzerland does not appear on the list of third countries associated to Horizon Europe. The notification coming out of the blue has left a number of researchers – who had been encouraged to apply to Horizon Europe ERC’s first calls in spring – puzzled and somewhat speechless.
Discussions are not irrevocably closed but the underlying political tensions still pending make Switzerland’s ability to associate with Horizon Europe highly uncertain at present.
Read more about Horizon Europe’s 2021-2022 work programme here.