Horizon Europe 2025-2027: Leading Europe Towards a Sustainable and Innovative Future

The EU’s flagship program, Horizon Europe, enters its crucial phase with the launch of its second strategic plan for the 2025-2027 period, outlining an ambitious path to tackle the most significant and urgent global challenges of our time. This new strategic plan aims to position Europe at the forefront of research and innovation, directing funding and resources towards critical areas such as climate change, biodiversity loss, digital transition, and demographic aging. The approach to these challenges is holistic and inclusive, aiming to make Europe greener, more digital, and above all, more resilient, competitive, and democratic. 

What has changed?  With the transition to the second strategic plan of Horizon Europe for 2025-2027, the EU has introduced a series of innovations and targeted changes to add the program to evolving political and social circumstances. Changes that reflect feedback from Member States, associated countries, research and innovation (R&I) stakeholders, and the public, showing a collective desire to make the strategic plan more accessible and impactful. 

One of the most significant changes has been the simplification of the impact logic through the elimination of “impact areas,” reducing complexity and focusing more on expected impacts. This change has made the plan more straightforward to understand, while still maintaining a clear vision of Horizon’s long-term objectives. 

Additionally, the plan has reduced the four strategic orientations of the 2021-2024 plan to three keys, interconnected, and less prescriptive orientations that reflect the EU’s main political priorities and require a contribution from research and innovation: 

  1. Green transition: An imperative priority that occupies a central position in Horizon Europe’s strategy, reflecting the critical importance of addressing climate change and biodiversity loss. To make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, the plan allocates a significant portion of its budget to climate action (35%) and biodiversity (10%). A commitment that reflects the urgency of addressing biodiversity loss and pollution, highlighting the importance of an ecological transition that is sustainable and equitable. 
  1. Digital transition: In parallel, the strategic plan places a strong emphasis on digitalization as a lever for European competitiveness and strategic autonomy. Horizon Europe, through a planned investment of at least 13 billion euros in key digital technologies, recognizes the crucial importance of digitalization not only for the economy but also as a facilitator of the ecological transition and promoter of a fairer and more inclusive society. This aspect of the strategy aims to position Europe at the forefront of technological innovation, ensuring while the benefits of digitalization are accessible to all citizens. 
  1. A more resilient, competitive, inclusive, and democratic Europe: The strategic plan underlines the need to build a more resilient and democratic European society. A broad and multidimensional goal that shows how Europe’s strength lies in its diversity and social cohesion. Promoting research and innovation in areas such as civil security, sustainable economy, health, well-being, and democratic participation. The Horizon Europe program seeks to address inequalities, improve security and quality of life, and strengthen the democratic fabric of the continent. 

The plan has also enhanced the coverage of Pillar I (Excellent Science), Pillar III (Innovative Europe), and the section “Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area (ERA),” ensuring better coherence among all components of Horizon Europe, respecting their specific objectives. New sections and themes have been added that address specific issues such as synergies, and the balance between research and innovation. Moreover, the “New European Bauhaus” has been identified as a cross-cutting theme, with specific components for the 2025-2027 timeframe. 

Commitment to international Cooperation 

The strategy for 2025-2027 underscores the importance of openness and international cooperation, while maintaining Europe’s strategy for autonomy in the development and implementation of critical technologies. The strategic plan fosters innovation through the establishment of new co-programmed and co-financed European partnerships. 

In conclusion, the second strategic plan of Horizon Europe represents a step forward in addressing emerging challenges, maintaining continuity with previous goals but introducing significant innovations to reflect changing circumstances.