Show me the money: the Horizon Europe budget and its distribution

Introductory remark

Now that an agreement on the EU’s overall budget for the next seven years (the so-called “Multiannual Financial Framework” or MFF) has been found, the Horizon Europe budget has also been approved. In total the budget will be 95,515 billion €. It should be noted that this sum is given in current prices, that is, already including inflation. This is important since the Commission’s original proposal of 100 billion € was in 2018 prices (or “constant prices”). Using constant prices (that is, not adding inflation), the Horizon Europe budget is only 83,9 billion € – which is still an increase as compared to Horizon 2020 but not nearly the amount initially earmarked by the Commission.  This explains why the Scientific Community still considers the budget somewhat unsatisfactory.

It should also be noted that the Horizon Europe budget is now made up of a core budget, plus a contribution from the next Generation EU recovery and resilience fund and (to partially placate the community) a top up from the EU’s own resources.

Recap: the structure of Horizon Europe

To recap: like Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe contains three pillars. Content wise, pillar I, “Excellence”, stays pretty much the same as in Horizon 2020. Pillar II, is now made up both of research on societal challenges and on industrial competitiveness (pillar II and III of Horizon 2020). This has opened up space for a new pillar 3, which is dedicated to innovation. There will also be a cross cutting pillar (sometimes referred to as pillar IV) on widening and the European Research Area.  

Source: European Commission Factsheet

So what does the distribution of funds look like?

The important question now is how the overall funding will be distributed among the three pillars. According to Science Business the proposal distribution is as follows:

In the following table we can see the more detailed breakdown within the pillars:

  Pillars   TOTAL   %              
Pillar I Excellent and Open science of which 26% €   24.906
European Research Council (ERC) 17% €   16.099
Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions 7% €     6.401
Research infrastructures 3% €     2.405
Pillar II ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’ of which 56% €   53.801
1.Health 8% €     7.962
2a.Inclusive and Creative Society 2% €     2.280
2b. Secure Society 2% €     1.881
3. Digital, Industry and Space 16% €   15.539
4.Climate energy and mobility 16% €   15.218
5.Food, Natural Resources and Agriculture 9% €     8.953
6.Non-nuclear direct actions of the JRC 2% €     1.970
Pillar III Innovative Europe 14% €   13.418
1.European Innovation Council 10% €     9.736
European Innovation Ecosystem 1% €        527
EIT 3% €     3.155
IV Strenthening the European research Area 4% €     3.392
Spreading excellence and widening 3% €     2.954
Reforming and enhancing European (Union) R&I System   0% €        438
100% €   95.517