Horizon Europe is the successor program of Horizon 2020, the European Union’s flagship research & innovation program and will have a budget of €95 billion to spend over a seven-year period. Horizon Europe will start in 2021.

The UK and Horizon Europe

The post-Brexit agreement reached on 24 December 2020 between the EU and the UK says that the UK can continue to pay into and participate in EU research funding programmes – including Horizon Europe the seven-year, €95.5 billion financial framework programme which will succeed Horizon 2020. The Draft Protocol also states that the UK may participate in Joint Research Centre (JRC) activities, European Partnerships, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT),European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERICs) and the European Research Area Committee (ERAC).  

Once finalised, the UK’s associated status will provide UoE researchers with full access to participate, lead and receive funding from the Horizon Europe programme, as they have under Horizon 2020 and the previous EU research and innovation funding programmes. 

Besides Horizon Europe, the UK will continue to have a role in four other EU programmes, namely the Euratom nuclear research programme, the ITER project to build the world’s first functioning nuclear fusion system, the earth monitoring project Copernicus, and EU satellite surveillance and tracking services. In the absence of defence cooperation, the UK will not have access to Galileo encrypted military data.

The full detail of the legal text of the agreement can be found on the gov.uk website.

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Implications for Research 

Now that the Brexit transition period has ended, can UK researchers still apply for research funding from the EU?

Yes. Once finalised the UK’s associated status will provide our researchers with full access to participate, lead and receive funding from the Horizon Europe programme, as they have under Horizon 2020 and the previous EU research and innovation funding programmes. This means UK researchers will be able to participate in nearly all parts of Horizon Europe, including:

  • Leading and participating in collaborative projects

  • European Research Council

  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

  • European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERICs)

  • European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)

  • European Innovation Council (EIC).

The UK is also associating to the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) programme, meaning that the UK will retain full membership of COST as well.

When can UK researchers start applying for research funding from Horizon Europe?

Once the Regulation establishing Horizon Europe has been ratified, UK association to Horizon Europe is expected to be formalised quickly. This is likely to take place in time for the first Horizon Europe (HE) funding calls, expected to be launched in April 2021. In advance of this the ERC hopes to launch its first Horizon Europe calls at the end of February 2021. Some tentative HE ERC call dates have been published already. The UK Research Office clarified that researchers based in countries in the process of associating (such as the UK) can apply to those early calls. However, formal association needs to be concluded before grant agreements can be signed. 

How will the UK pay for access to Horizon Europe?

The UK will pay for access to the programme based on its GDP relative to the EU27 GDP, plus an administrative fee (0.5% of the UK contributions in year 1, rising to 4%). If, over two years in a row, the cost of UK grants exceeds 8% of its contribution to the programme, then the UK will have to reimburse the EU. Conversely, if the UK wins 12% less than it contributes to the programme, it can call for a review of how to improve UK performance. If the UK wins 16% less than its contribution, the UK could choose to withdraw from Horizon Europe. It is currently unclear whether there will be any national triaging of applications (e.g. by Government or UKRI) to ensure the UK does not overshoot its contribution to the programme.

Will the UK be able to influence EU research programmes?

The UK will have observer rights on programme committees and the European Research Area Committee. It will not be able to vote, but these committees do not often hold votes.

Will researchers in the UK be able to visit the EU (and vice versa) for research purposes?

Yes. Under the new points-based immigration system, EU citizens will be able to come to the UK for six months without the need to obtain a visa, in order to carry out certain business or academic activities, such as going to a conference or a meeting, but not to do a work placement or internship. For those involved in EU research programmes, the UK and EU have agreed to facilitate the entry and residence of students, researchers, trainees and volunteers.

How will the new immigration system affect researchers?

EU citizens who had moved to the UK by 31 December 2020 are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and will have until 30 June 2021 to do so.

As of 1 January 2021, free movement has ended, and the UK’s new points-based system has taken effect. Under the new system, EU and non-EU citizens are considered in the same way. To be eligible to apply for a visa through the skilled workers route, applicants will need to reach 70 points. An individual who has a job offer at the appropriate skill level with a salary of at least £20,480 (20 points) from an approved sponsor (20 points) and speaks English (10 points) will need to secure 20 further points. These 20 points can be secured by meeting one of the following conditions:

  • the salary of their UK job offer being at least £25,600
  • the job being in a shortage occupation
  • the applicant holding a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job
  • the salary being at least £23,040 AND the applicant holding a PhD in a non-STEM subject relevant to the job.

Skilled workers will be able to be accompanied by their dependents. You can find further detail in the Home Office factsheet: New routes launched as part of points-based immigration system.

How can I access latest EU funding opportunities?

Open calls will be circulated via the horizoneurope@essex.ac.uk email list. You can receive these emails by subscribing here. The university is subscribing to the UK Research Office (UKRO) Portal which produces Horizon Europe factsheets and latest information on EU funding opportunities. You can browse the UKRO portal and sign up for email alerts. However, the UKRO portal is currently inaccessible due to a cyberattack. This should be resolved shortly.

Strategic objectives

The strategic objectives of Horizon Europe are to drive economic growth and create more and better jobs. Horizon Europe plans on building on H2020 by tapping the innovation potential of EU member states and associated countries with more specific targeted actions funding projects for both public and private sector organizations.

Horizon Europe will have specific key focus areas for research and innovation support. Additionally Horizon Europe will focus on having a more targeted practical impact via European partnerships, missions and mutually beneficial areas of international cooperation for the benefit of society.

Preliminary structure of Horizon Europe

Missions in Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe will incorporate research and innovation missions to increase the effectiveness of funding by pursuing clearly defined targets. The Commission has engaged policy experts to develop studies, case studies and reports on how a mission-oriented policy approach will work.

5 mission areas have been identified, each with a dedicated mission board and assembly. The board and assembly help specify, design and implement the specific missions which will launch under Horizon Europe in 2021.


  • Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation
  • Cancer
  • Climate-neutral and smart cities
  • Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  • Soil health and food

European partnerships in Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe will support European partnerships with EU countries, the private sector, foundations and other stakeholders. The aim is to deliver on global challenges and industrial modernisation through concerted research and innovation efforts.

Full information on European Partnerships including candidates and contact details

Get in touch
Dr. Beate Knight Research Development Manager, EU and International
Room 3.602, Rab Butler Building
Telephone: 01206 874975