Community Funds: 2021 - 2027 period
The European Commission will start committing funds under the next multi-annual financial framework (long-term EU budget) from 1 January 2021, following the adoption of the relevant sectoral legislation and the annual budget by the European Parliament and the Council.
Five main objectives will boost EU investments in the seven-year period between 2021 and 2027:
A more intelligent Europe, through innovation, digitalisation, economic transformation and support for small and medium-sized companies;
A greener and carbon-free Europe, which applies the Paris Agreement and invests in energy transition, renewable energy and the fight against climate change;
A more connected Europe, with strategic transport and digital networks;
A more social Europe, which makes the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality and supports quality employment, education, educational and professional skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare;
A Europe that is closer to its citizens, supporting locally managed growth strategies and contributing to sustainable urban development across the EU.
Over 50% of the amount will support modernisation, for example, through:
Research and innovation, through Horizon Europe
Just climate and digital transitions, through the Just Transition Fund, and the Digital Europe programme
Preparation, recovery and resilience, through the Recovery and Resilience Fund, rescEU and a new health programme, EU4Health.
The package also pays attention to:
The modernisation of traditional policies, such as those on cohesion and common agricultural policy, so that they contribute as much as possible to the Union’s priorities
The fight against climate change, with 30% of EU funds, the highest percentage in the history of the European budget
The protection of biodiversity and gender equality
Research and Innovation Framework Programme (Horizon Europe) (2021-2027)
Horizon Europe is the name of the European Union’s research and innovation financing programme for the 2021-2027 period.
Horizon Europe is the name of the European Union’s research and innovation financing programme for the 2021-2027 period, replacing Horizon 2020, and is aimed at achieving the political priorities of the European Union, included among which is the European Green Pact (to mitigate climate change and achieve a greener and more sustainable economy), digitalisation, and recovery from the situation of the current pandemic (to make societies more resilient and prepare us for future crises).
The new programme will have a budget of around €95,500 million (including €5,400 million from the #NextGenerationEU recovery programme), 35% of which will be allocated to projects and initiatives related to climate change. This budget sees a 30% increase compared to the current programme and becomes the most ambitious R&D support programme in the world.
Structure by pillars
The new framework programme is structured around three main pillars:
- Pillar 1promotes scientific excellence through basic frontier research (European Research Council), mobility and training of researchers (Marie Sklodowska-Curie grants), and research infrastructures.
- Pillar 2 aims to respond to major global challenges and boost European industrial competitiveness through collaborative projects and six themed clusters.
In the climate, energy, mobility, civil security, and digital, industry and space clusters, resources are expanded to ensure that European companies have access to the technologies they need, and priority will be given to promoting European technological sovereignty and quantum research. The food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment cluster encompasses a great diversity of topics such as circular systems and research in oceans, seas and inland waters. The culture, creativity and inclusive society cluster will finance, for the first time, creative industries as an economic engine in a research and innovation framework programme. Finally, the health cluster will also address challenges like those from the current pandemic situation, as well as public health systems and access to healthcare.
- Pillar 3focuses on innovation and aims to enhance R+Y ecosystems through collaboration between regional and national agents. It includes the current European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which supports companies, educational and research institutions to work together to create an environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship.
There is also a transversal pillar allocated to financing instruments and tools that allow progress to be made in the European Research Area (ERA).
With a budget of €8 050 million, the 6th generation of Interreg will support cooperation between regions, citizens and economic stakeholders over their respective land and maritime borders.
For the first time, a specific allocation will be dedicated to strengthening the cooperation of outermost regions with their neighbouring environment, such as the Caribbean regions, to stimulate economic exchanges among regional partners and their mutual development.
Interregional cooperation will also continue to promote exchange of expertise, good practices and capacity building through a dedicated set of programmes: Interreg Europe, Urbact, Interact and ESPON.
Moreover, territorial cooperation will be streamlined, benefiting in particular from the simplification measures agreed under the Common Provisions Regulation.
The split of allocations for each specific strand:
- €5 800 million for cross border cooperation
- €1 467 million for transnational cooperation
- €490 million for interregional cooperation
- €280 million for outermost regions
- A specific EU co-financing rate of 80%, increased to 85% for outermost regions, agreed upon in the Common Provisions Regulation.
- Provisions on thematic concentration, including an obligation to support measures contributing to the achievement of the European Green Deal as well as measures falling under the European Social Fund Plus Regulation, between internal land borders. They also encourage new specific objectives under Interreg, aiming in particular to make Europe safer and more secure.
- Flexibility provisions facilitating the support to small projects, including people-to-people actions.
- A complete and flexible set of support to technical assistance, tailored to the needs of each type of programme.
The Recovery and Resilience Facility, lies at the heart of the EU’s recovery plan. It will make €672.5 billion in grants and loans available for public investment and reforms in the 27 member states to help them address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, to foster the green and digital transitions and to build resilient and inclusive societies.
Member states will receive support from the facility on the basis of their national recovery and resilience plans, which are currently under preparation.
- Measures supported and main requirements
Under the new regulation, member states will need to set out in their national recovery and resilience plans a coherent package of reforms and investment projects, covering six policy areas of European relevance:
- the green transition
- digital transformation
- smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs
- social and territorial cohesion
- health and resilience
- policies for the next generation, children and youth, including education and skills
Support will be linked to country-specific recommendations under the European Semester, which identify central challenges for each member state to address to strengthen competitiveness as well as social and economic cohesion. It will also contribute to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Some of the key requirements concern the EU’s green and digital objectives. At least 37% of each plan’s allocation has to support the green transition and at least 20% the digital transformation. In addition, all measures included in member states’ plans should respect the ‘do no significant harm’ principle, to protect the EU’s environmental goals.
Importantly, member states will also need to ensure that adequate control systems are put in place to prevent, detect and correct corruption, fraud and conflicts of interest.
The EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action (LIFE)
LIFE is the only communitary programme focused on climate change and biosphere preservation. Since 1992, LIFE has supported over 5.000 projects around the continent, with a contribution of up to 6,5 billion euros. This instrument gives aid to all kind of initiatives based on the European Union, were these be small or big corporate, public or NGOs. LIFE is managed by the European Climate, Infraestructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), a brand-new organization tasked with implementing the European Green Deal.
The new 2021-2027 scheme is built upon the Regulation 2021/783, which answers to the objectives in climate and energy, namely the international accords and the already mentioned European Green Deal. Furthermore, its budged has been significantly increased to 5,4 billion euros, while the program itself is divided into two branches: one for environment, and the other revolving climate change. As a novelty, the last call for proposals includes a Clean Energy Transition sub-programme, aimed to a resilient, circular economy, capable of growth separated from resource upkeep, and also climate neutral.
The environment section consists of two subsequent divisions:
a) Nature and biodiversity
b) Circular economy and quality of life
The same applies for the climate change segment:
a) Climate change adaptation and mitigation
b) Clean energy transition (Horizon 2020 continuation)
Each year, LIFE will make calls for proposals for the different categories of projects.