Adoption of the Horizon Europe’s first strategic plan 2021-2024

15 Mar 2021

On 15 March 2021, the European Commission adopted the first strategic plan 2021-2024 for Horizon Europe, the new EU research and innovation programme worth €95.5 billion in current prices.

Adoption of the Strategic Plan 2021-2024

The strategic plan is a novelty in Horizon Europe and sets the strategic orientations for the targeting of investments in the programme’s first four years. It ensures that EU research and innovation actions contribute to EU priorities, including a climate-neutral and green Europe, a Europe fit for the digital age, and an economy that works for people.

The strategic plan sets out four strategic orientations for research and innovation investments under Horizon Europe for the next four years:

  • Promote open strategic autonomy
  • Restore ecosystems
  • Make Europe climate neutral & digitally enabled
  • Create a more resilient & democratic European Societ

The strategic plan also identifies the European co-funded and co-programmed partnerships and the EU missions to be supported though Horizon Europe. The partnerships will cover critical areas such as energy, transport, biodiversity, health, food and circularity, and will complement the ten Institutionalised European Partnerships proposed by the Commission in February. As part of the ten Instutionalised European Partnership is KDT or ‘Key Digital Technologies‘, the new partnership to help speed up transition to green and digital Europe

Read more on priorities in the full press release.

Strategic Plan 2021-2024 release

The Strategic Plan 2021 is the result of the innovative co-design process reflected in the four key strategic orientations, supported by 15 impact areas. These strategic orientations will guide the Horizon Europe work programmes until 2024 and will provide the basis for building synergies with other EU programmes and funds, as well as investments in research and innovation at Member State level in the context of the European Research Areas.
The key strategic orientations and impact areas are formulated on the basis of expected impacts, which have been defined, largely bottom-up, during the co-design process. The impacts define the wider effects on society, the economy and science to be targeted by research and innovation activities, but not the manner in which to achieve them. This is entirely up to the imagination and skill of the applicants. The impacts are structured by the six clusters out of which Cluster 4 ‘Digital, Industry and Space’. The Cluster 4-specific impact summary is annexed to the Strategic Plan 2021-2024. 
Furthermore, this document presents a range of horizontal considerations related to areas for international cooperation, and key specific issues, such as gender, social sciences and humanities integration, key enabling technologies, ethics, open science practices, as well as social innovation. It also identifies missions and European co-funded and co-programmed partnerships.

Cluster 4

Cluster 4 (Digital, Industry and Space) will support the development and mastery of digital and key enabling technologies of the future. This will increase adaptability and resilience to improve production response, recovery and preparedness to deliver on a green, digital and fair transformation and give EU industries across all sectors the competitive edge they need for leadership in global markets. Investments under this cluster will support the EU to seize opportunities in key parts of the digital supply chain, to consolidate EU assets (e.g. embedded systems, telecom, industrial technologies) and develop missing segments in key strategic value chains, including secure, sustainable, responsibly sourced supply of raw and critical raw materials.

Expected impact of Cluster 4

Expected impacts of cluster 4 Cluster 4 will programme activities that support digital, space and key enabling technologies that are strategically important for Europe’s industrial future, and deliver the following six impacts:

  1. Global leadership in clean and climate-neutral industrial value chains, circular economy and climate-neutral digital systems and infrastructures (networks, data centres), through innovative production and manufacturing processes and their digitisation, new business models, sustainable-by-design advanced materials and technologies enabling the switch to decarbonisation in all major emitting industrial sectors, including green digital technologies.
  2. Industrial leadership and increased autonomy in key strategic value chains with security of supply in raw materials, achieved through breakthrough technologies in areas of industrial alliances, dynamic industrial innovation ecosystems and advanced solutions for substitution, resource and energy efficiency, effective reuse and recycling and clean primary production of raw materials, including critical raw materials and leadership in circular economy.
  3. Globally attractive, secure and dynamic data-agile economy by developing and enabling the uptake of the next-generation computing and data technologies and infrastructures (including space infrastructure and data), enabling the European single market for data with the corresponding data spaces and a trustworthy artificial intelligence ecosystem.
  4. Open strategic autonomy in digital technologies and in future emerging enabling technologies by strengthening European capacities in key parts of digital and future supply chains, allowing agile responses to urgent needs, and by investing in early discovery and industrial uptake of new technologies.
  5. Open strategic autonomy in developing, deploying and using global space-based infrastructures, services, applications and data, including by reinforcing the EU’s independent capacity to access space, securing the autonomy of supply for critical technologies and equipment and fostering the EU’s space sector competitiveness.
  6. A human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies, through a two-way engagement in the development of technologies, empowering end-users and workers, and supporting social innovation.

Read the full Strategic Plan 2021-2024 here.