EU Research Policy

Research is international. No country can master the great societal challenges like climate change or the growing need for renewable energy sources on its own. The EU Member States are joining forces in research and innovation to find solutions.

An EU flag is fluttering in front of the Berlaymont building in Brussels, which houses the headquarters of the European Commission. Parts of the building can be seen blurred in the background.

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The EU’s research and innovation policies address Europe’s societal, economic, and political challenges. Digital transformation, innovation, security for health, food, energy, regional development and social participation are driving the agenda and the organization of the EU’s research and development. Research is crucial to identify facts and solutions and supports fact-based policymaking. Research is also an economic driver and ia central to fostering international relations.

The EU Member States agree on joint research topics and parameters for research and innovation to be achieved within the European Research Area. They operate in conjunction with the heterogeneity of their national research systems and funding priorities.

The European Research Area has two dimensions:

  1. Joint actions to foster research and innovation: Since 1984, the foremost trademark of this has been the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (currently Horizon Europe 2021-2027). These programmes are financed through the EU to fund research and innovation projects carried out within the EU as well as in cooperation with global partners. Horizon Europe 2021-2027 is the framework programme currently in place. With a budget of 95.5 billion euro running for a period of seven years (at current price levels and including the 5.4 billion euro economic recovery fund budget "NextGenerationEU"), Horizon Europe is the largest research funding programme in the world. The programme is pivotal for the implementation of the European Research Area.
  2. Creating attractive conditions for research and innovation across the entire EU: The second dimension of the EU’s research policy strives to foster coherence between national research and science systems. The goal is to strengthen national research systems and the interfaces between national systems to strengthen a joint European Research Area. Horizon Europe’s budget is only a fragment of the Member States’ overall research and innovation expenditure; the strategical and political cooperation in the European Research Area is therefore an important vehicle towards the achievement of common goals.

Research is a key factor for a strong economy and therefore an important part of EU Cohesion Policy. Capacity-building in research and innovation is essential to bolster the economy as well as employment opportunities, to improve the quality of life in the Europe’s regions and to strengthen the EU competitiveness. The Member States and regions co-finance the European Structural and Investment Funds in order to support this.