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Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development

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The Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, also called Framework Programmes or abbreviated FP1 to FP9, are funding programmes created by the European Union/European Commission to support and foster research in the European Research Area (ERA). Starting in 2014, the funding programmes were named Horizon.

The funding programmes began in 1984 and continue to the present day. The most recent programme, Horizon Europe, has a budget of 95.5 billion Euros to be distributed over 7 years.

The specific objectives and actions vary between funding periods. In FP6 and FP7, focus was on technological research. In Horizon 2020, the focus was on innovation, delivering economic growth faster, and delivering solutions to end users that are often governmental agencies.


Conducting European research policies and implementing European research programmes is an obligation under the Amsterdam Treaty, which includes a chapter on research and technological development. The programmes are defined by Commission civil servants that are aided by various official advisory group and lobby groups. E.g. to advise the European Commission on the overall strategy to be followed in carrying out the Information and Communication Technology thematic priority, the Information Society Technologies Advisory Group (ISTAG) was set up.[1]

The framework programmes[edit]

The framework programmes, up until Framework Programme 6 (FP6), covered five-year periods; but from Framework Programme 7 (FP7) onward, programmes run for seven years. The Framework Programmes, and their budgets in billions of Euros, are presented in the table below.[2] For FP1–FP5, program expenditures were made in European Currency Units; from FP6 onward budgets were in Euros. The values presented below are in Euros.

ID Framework Programme period Budget (billions of €)
FP1 First[3] 1984–1987 3.8
FP2 Second[4] 1987–1991 5.4
FP3 Third[5] 1990–1994 6.6
FP4 Fourth[6] 1994–1998 13.2
FP5 Fifth[7] 1998–2002 15.0
FP6 Sixth[8] 2002–2006 16.3
FP7 Seventh 2007–2013 50.5 over seven years
+ 2.7 for Euratom over five years[9]
FP8 Horizon 2020 (Eighth)[10] 2014–2020 77[11]
FP9 Horizon Europe[12] 2021–2027 95.5[13][14]

Funding instruments[edit]

FP6 and FP7[edit]

Framework Programme 6 and 7 (2002–2013) projects were generally funded through instruments, the most important of which included:

  • Integrating Project (IP)
    • Medium- to large-sized collaborative research projects funded in FP6 and FP7. They are composed of a minimum of three partners coming from three countries from Associated states but can join several tens of partners. The typical duration of such projects is three to five years but there is not a defined upper limit. The budget granted by the Commission can reach several tens of million euros, paid as a fraction of the actual costs spent by the participants.[15]
    • IPs specifically aim at fostering European competitiveness in basic research and applied science with a focus on "addressing major needs in society" defined by the Priority Themes of the Framework Programme. Like STRePs (see below), IPs ask for a strong participation of small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to ascertain the translation of research results into commercially viable products or services.[16][need quotation to verify]
  • Network of Excellence (NoE)
    • Medium-sized research projects co-funded by the European Commission in FP6 and FP7. These projects are "designed to strengthen scientific and technological excellence on a particular research topic through the durable integration of the research capacities of the participants."[17]
    • NoE projects require the minimum participation of three EU member-nations, however, the commission expected projects would usually involve at least six countries.[18] Projects are provided grants for a maximum of seven years. The budget granted by the Commission is €1–6 million per year depending upon the number of researchers involved.[18]
    • An NoE project should not strictly be considered as a research project, since its aim is not to conduct research, but rather to contribute to the clarification of the concepts in the covered field.[citation needed]
  • Specific Targeted Research Projects (STReP)
    • Medium-sized research projects funded by the European Commission in the FP6 and FP7 funding programs. STReP projects involve a minimum of three partners coming from three countries from Associated states. The typical duration of such projects is two to three years. In FP6, they generally involved between six and 15 partners. The budget granted by the Commission is in average around €2 million.[19]

Note also the FP7 Joint Technology Initiatives (JTI) in partnership with industry.[20] A specific action was the FIRST project, to foster cooperation in the area of internet technologies through the European-Latin American Technology Platforms.[21]

Horizon 2020[edit]

The Horizon 2020 logo, a European Union framework programme.
The Horizon 2020 logo, a European Union framework programme.

Horizon 2020 was the eighth framework programme (FP8) funding research, technological development, and innovation. The programme's name has been modified to "Framework Programme for Research and Innovation".

The programme ran from 2014 to 2020 and provided an estimated 80 billion of funding,[22][23] an increase of 23 per cent on the previous phase.[24] The ERC, as one component of H2020, funded 6,707 research projects worth a total of €13.3 billion.[25] From 2013 to 2020 the EU’s European Research Council assigned to UK scientists €1.7bn in grants, more than any other country.[26]

Horizon 2020 provided grants to research and innovation projects through open and competitive calls for proposals. Legal entities from any country were eligible to submit project proposals to these calls. Participation from outside the European Union was explicitly encouraged.[27] Participants from European Union member states and countries associated to Horizon 2020 were automatically fundable.

Horizon 2020 supported open access to research results.[28] Projects such as the European Processor Initiative, or the Exscalate4Cov project, were beneficiaries of Horizon 2020.[29][30][31]

Horizon 2020 has been succeeded by Horizon Europe in 2021.

Objective and pillars[edit]

The framework programme's objective is to complete the European Research Area (ERA) by coordinating national research policies and pooling research funding in some areas to avoid duplication. Horizon 2020 itself is seen as a policy instrument to implement other high-level policy initiatives of the European Union, such as Europe 2020 and Innovation Union.

The programme consists of three main research areas that are called "pillars":

  • The first pillar, "Excellent Science", focuses on basic science. It has a budget of 24 billion euro.
  • The second pillar is "Industrial Leadership", with a budget of 14 billion euro. It is managed by DG Enterprise and based on Europe 2020 and Innovation Union strategies. The goal is to find ways to modernize European industries that have suffered from a fragmented European market.
  • The third pillar funds potential solutions to social and economic problems, "Societal challenges" (SC). The goal is implementation of solutions, less on technology development.

The structure follows the previous framework programme (FP7, 2007–2013) to the level of the sub-programmes under the pillars.

Horizon 2020 is also implementing the European environmental research and innovation policy, which is aimed at defining and turning into reality a transformative agenda for greening the economy and the society as a whole so as to achieve a truly sustainable development.


The framework programme is implemented by the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union. More specifically, it is implemented by various agencies, including:

Associated countries[edit]

Associated countries have signed an association agreement for the purposes of this framework programme. To date, 14 countries are associated to Horizon 2020.[32] Participants from European Union member states and countries associated to Horizon 2020 are automatically funded.

Switzerland is considered as "partly associated" due to the 2014 referendums held by Switzerland, which free movement of workers between Switzerland and the EU was limited. Swiss organizations continue to be active participants in Horizon 2020, however, their participation is sometimes covered by national funding.

Israel is an associated country of Horizon 2020. A central point of negotiation was the funding of projects beyond the Green Line.[33] Israel published its views in an Appendix to the official documents.

Armenia gained the status of associated country and Armenian researchers and organizations can participate in all Horizon programs on equal footing with EU member states.[34]

Illustrative projects[edit]


IMPETUS (Information Management Portal to Enable the inTegration of Unmanned Systems) is addressing the scientific analysis of information management requirements for a safe and efficient integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in very low level airspace. As a result, technologically and commercially feasible service solutions are elaborated and deployed in an experimental testing environment.

The expected growth of future UAS movements in rural as well as urban areas indicates the need for traffic management solutions, ensuring a normal course of trouble free operations of manned as well as unmanned aviation.[35] IMPETUS contributes by investigating potential microservices that serve the airspace user's needs in all phases of the operation life cycle, from strategical planning over pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight data provision. Since information management is an infrastructural prerequisite of future unmanned traffic systems, the results support the European goal to gain in prosperity by means of the job and business opportunities of an emerging drone service market.[36]

Ensuring a scalable, flexible and cost efficient system, IMPETUS proposes the application of the Function as a Service paradigm and Smart Concepts. Concurrently, data quality and integrity is taken into account to guarantee a safe conduct of all operations. To fulfil these purposes, the project started to characterize data processes and services of vital importance for drone operations. Following the requirements derived from this preliminary studies, a Smart UTM Design is drafted in alignment with the U-Space concept, which describes a framework for a progressive implementation of services to "enable complex drone operations with a high degree of automation to take place in all types of operational environments, including urban areas".[37] Subsequently, specific microservices will be prototyped and laboratory scale tested in a server-less cloud-based environment.[38]

On behalf of the SESAR Joint Undertaking, IMPETUS is carried out from 2017 to 2019 by a multinational consortium of key stakeholders in unmanned aviation:

Altitude Angel (UK), Boeing Research and Technology Europe (ES), C-Astral (SI), CRIDA (ES), INECO (ES), Jeppesen (DE) and the Technical University of Darmstadt (DE).


A network of Open Access repositories, archives and journals that support Open Access policies. The OpenAIRE Consortium is a Horizon 2020 (FP8) project, aimed to support the implementation of the EC and ERC Open Access policies.

Its successor OpenAIREplus is aimed at linking the aggregated research publications to the accompanying research and project information, datasets and author information.

Open access to scientific peer reviewed publications has evolved from a pilot project with limited scope in FP7 to an underlying principle in the Horizon 2020 funding scheme, obligatory for all H2020 funded projects. The goal is to make as much European funded research output as possible available to all, via the OpenAIRE portal.

— openaire.eu FAQ[39]

The Zenodo research data repository is a product of OpenAIRE. The OpenAIRE portal is online.[40]

Criticism of the programmes[edit]

The programmes have been criticized on various grounds, such as actually diminishing Europe's industrial competitiveness[41] and failing to deliver fundamental excellence and global economic competitiveness.[42]

In 2010, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency launched a petition calling for a simplification of administrative procedures, which attracted over 13,000 signatories.[43] The numerous other criticisms of the petitioners were later distilled into a green paper.[44] In Horizon 2020, there are significant simplifications: e.g. fewer funding rates (increasing the funding rates of the large companies), less reporting, less auditing, shorter time from proposal to project kick-off. In a Nature article in December 2020, Horizon 2020 is praised for being less bureaucratic than past framework programmes.[45]

In 2021, the European Commission services introduced several simplifications in the new framework programme Horizon Europe, to facilitate the work of the beneficiaries especially in the reporting phase.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ISTAG website". Cordis.lu. 20 October 2011. Archived from the original on 26 April 2006. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  2. ^ Artis, M. J. and F. Nixson, Eds. "The Economics of the European Union: Policy and Analysis" (4th ed.), Oxford University Press 2007
  3. ^ Council resolution of 25 July 1983 on framework programmes for Community research, development and demonstration activities and a first framework programme 1984 to 1987; OJ C208 – 04/08/1983; Official Journal of the European Union
  4. ^ Council Decision of 28 September 1987 concerning the framework programme for Community activities in the field of research and technological development (1987 to 1991); OJ L302 – 24 October 1987; 87/516/Euratom, EEC; Official Journal of the European Union
  5. ^ Council Decision of 23 April 1990 concerning the framework Programme of Community activities in the field of research and technological development (1990 to 1994); OJ L117 – 08/05/1990; 90/221/Euratom, EEC; Official Journal of the European Union
  6. ^ Decision No 1110/94/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 April 1994 concerning the fourth framework programme of the European Community activities in the field of research and technological development and demonstration; OJ L126 – 18 May 1994; No 1110/94/EC; Official Journal of the European Union
  7. ^ Decision No 182/1999/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 December 1998 concerning the fifth framework programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (1998 to 2002); OJ L26 – 01/02/1999; No 182/1999/EC; Official Journal of the European Union
  8. ^ Decision No 1513/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2002 concerning the sixth framework programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities, contributing to the creation of the European Research Area and to innovation (2002 to 2006); OJ L232 – 29 August 2002; No 1513/2002/EC; Official Journal of the European Union
  9. ^ "How is FP 7 structured? from FP7 in Brief". European Commission. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  10. ^ Cordis. "The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation". Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Research and innovation funding: making a real difference". European Commission. 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  12. ^ Cordis. "The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation". Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Horizon Europe".
  14. ^ "What is the budget of Horizon Europe?". 6 May 2021.
  15. ^ "CORDIS Archive : CORDIS FP6: What is FP6: Instruments: Integrated Projects". Cordis.europa.eu. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  16. ^ "Provisions for Implementing Integrated Projects" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 May 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  17. ^ "What is FP6: Instruments: Network of Excellence". European Commission. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  18. ^ a b "Provisions for Implementing Networks of Excellence", cordis.europa.eu. Archived 1 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 25 June 2009
  19. ^ "Guide for applicants (Collaborative projects - Small and Medium-scale focused Research Projects - STREP)". European Commission. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  20. ^ OECD (24 October 2008). "2: Main trends in Science, Technology and Innovation policy". OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2008. OECD Publishing (published 2008). p. 76. ISBN 9789264049949. Retrieved 1 September 2017. Joint Technology Initiatives (JTI) [...] are initiatives emerging from European technology platforms and are financed partly by FP7 funds and by industry.
  21. ^ "FIRST: Platform technology between Europe and Latin America — OVTT". 30 May 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  22. ^ Grove, Jack (2011). "'Triple miracle' sees huge rise in EU funds for frontier research". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  23. ^ Amos, Jonathan (31 January 2014). "Horizon 2020: UK launch for EU's £67bn research budget". BBC News. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  24. ^ Rabesandratana, Tania. "E.U. Leaders Agree on Science Budget". ScienceInsider. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  25. ^ "ERC reveals mapping of its funded research". Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  26. ^ "The UK must stay in the EU's Horizon research programme". Physics World. 1 September 2022.
  27. ^ "Horizon 2020" (PDF). Ec.europa.eu. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 January 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  28. ^ "Fact sheet: Open Access in Horizon 2020" (PDF). European Commission. 9 December 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 April 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  29. ^ Oliver, Peckham (18 September 2020). "European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing". HPC Wire.
  30. ^ "Virtual reality at the service of healthcare". EASME - European Commission. 8 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  31. ^ "EXaSCale smArt pLatform Against paThogEns for Corona Virus | EXSCALATE4CoV Project | Fact Sheet | H2020". CORDIS | European Commission. doi:10.3030/101003551. Retrieved 11 July 2024.
  32. ^ "Associated Countries" (PDF). Ec.europa.eu. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  33. ^ Elis, Niv (2014). "Israel joins 77 billion euro Horizon 2020 R&D program". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  34. ^ "The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation HORIZON 2020". Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  35. ^ Union, Publications Office of the European (21 April 2017). European drones outlook study : unlocking the value for Europe. Publications Office. doi:10.2829/085259. ISBN 9789292160821.
  36. ^ "Warsaw Declaration: "Drones as a leverage for jobs and new business opportunities"" (PDF). 24 November 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 January 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  37. ^ U-space : blueprint. SESAR Joint Undertaking. Publications Office. 21 November 2017. doi:10.2829/335092. ISBN 9789292160876.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  38. ^ "IMPETUS - Information Management Portal to Enable the Integration of Unmanned Systems". 20 November 2017. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  39. ^ "Openaire - Faq". Openaire.eu. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  40. ^ "OpenAIRE". Openaire.eu. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  41. ^ Financial Control and Fraud in the Community. House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities, 12th Report. London: HMSO (1994).
  42. ^ H. Matthews, The 7th EU research framework programme. Nanotechnol. Perceptions 1 (2005) 99–105.
  43. ^ "Cerexhe receives petition for the simplification of administrative procedures for researchers". Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  44. ^ "Green Paper "From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation funding"" (PDF). Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), Vienna. May 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  45. ^ Abbott, Alison (16 December 2020). "Farewell to Europe's Horizon 2020". Nature. 588 (7838): 371. Bibcode:2020Natur.588..371A. doi:10.1038/d41586-020-03516-6. PMID 33328670. S2CID 229300023.
  46. ^ "EU Funds simply explained". EU Funds. Retrieved 20 May 2021.

Further reading[edit]