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Document 52024DC0231

REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL Annual Report on Research and Technological Development Activities of the European Union and Monitoring of Horizon Europe and Horizon 2020 in 2023

COM/2024/231 final

Brussels, 5.6.2024

COM(2024) 231 final


Annual Report on Research and Technological Development Activities of the European Union and Monitoring of Horizon Europe and Horizon 2020 in 2023


This report provides a non-exhaustive overview of the EU’s key research and innovation (R&I) activities in 2023 and monitoring of Horizon Europe, Horizon 2020 and the Euratom Research and Training programme.

It was drafted in accordance with Article 190 of the  Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 7 of the Euratom Treaty , in conjunction with Article 50 of the Regulation (EU) 2021/695 of the European Parliament and the Council establishing  Horizon Europe – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation  and with Article 12 of Council Regulation (Euratom) 2021/765 establishing the Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community .

2.Political context and policy developments

2023 was a year of multiple global challenges. Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, the digital transformation, health threats and an ageing population led to strong demand for R&I-based solutions. The unstable geopolitical context, in particular Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, also influenced R&I policy-making.

2.1Ukraine and EU’s internal security

The Commission continued providing  support to Ukraine , focusing on three key objectives: science and Ukrainian researchers in Ukraine and in refuge;

2.accelerate Ukraine’s efforts towards EU integration in R&I;

3.advocate for the role of R&I in key political and operational frameworks to promote Ukraine’s recovery.

The Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on a Ukraine Facility includes important references to rebuilding the research infrastructure.

The Horizon Europe Office in Kyiv was inaugurated in December and will promote funding opportunities and support applicants. The event also served as a political launch of a EUR 20 million initiative to support Ukrainian breakthrough innovators.

To increase the EU’s internal security, protect its population and critical infrastructure against cyber and physical threats and to increase disaster resilience, the following measures were taken:

·the EU framed its first multiannual strategic policy for European integrated border management for 2023-2027, with R&I as a cross-cutting component to support measures such as carrying out checks at borders;

·the European Parliament and the Council agreed on the mandate for a new EU Drugs Agency , whose tasks include various R&I activities;

·the Commission published a Communication on countering potential threats posed by drones , identifying how EU-funded research tackles the threats posed by drones;

·the Commission organised a security research event , bringing together more than 1 000 policymakers, researchers, security practitioners and industry representatives to discuss how security research can make the EU more resilient;

·the Union Secure Connectivity Programme for 2023-2027 was adopted to provide the EU with spaced-based satellite communication services based on R&I activities;

·the Council approved the revised  EU Maritime Security Strategy and its action plan including numerous actions related to R&I that seek to tackle new security threats.

2.2EU’s open strategic autonomy, economic security and international cooperation

The  European Economic Security Strategy  in line with the Global Approach to Research and Innovation  aims to ensure both the EU’s economic openness and safeguarding research security. R&I plays a key role in each of the Strategy’s three priorities: promoting, protecting, and partnering. 


The economic security strategy promotes competitiveness by investing in strategic technologies through Horizon Europe that are critical for economic security, such as advanced semi-conductors and quantum computing.

The Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform proposed financial support for critical technologies and to boost the EU’s resilience. The Commission also proposed a Critical Raw Materials Act and a Net Zero Industry Act , both promoting more R&I in areas that will increase the EU’s resilience.


Improving research security is key to protecting the EU’s open strategic autonomy by ensuring that existing tools are enforced systematically and by identifying and tackling any remaining gaps. The following measures applied in 2023:

· security appraisal  of Horizon Europe projects involved screening 118 proposals (68 in 2022), of which 20 underwent the security scrutiny procedure in cooperation with national security experts;

·the Horizon Europe Regulation provides the possibility to limit participation to safeguard EU strategic assets, interests, autonomy or security (Article 22(5));

·in line with the Toolkit on Tackling R&I Foreign interference , the Commission organised mutual learning exercises on R&I foreign interference, which brought together representatives from 14 Member States.


The Commission has strengthened R&I cooperation with:

·the United States, by renewing the bilateral agreement for science and technology cooperation ;

·Latin America and the Caribbean region, where a bi-regional Senior Officials Meeting initiated the development of a new strategic roadmap for cooperation;

·the African Union (AU) through the AU-EU Innovation Agenda to transform the EUs and AUs innovative capacity to foster sustainable jobs and growth;

·India, by setting up a working group on clean and green energy during the EU-India Trade and Technology Council ;

·the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance , including Norway and the United Kingdom.

In line with the Joint Communication EU-China Strategic Outlook , the Commission continued discussions on future EU-China cooperation in research and innovation.

2.3Green and digital transition

Tackling climate change remained a top priority in 2023, as evidenced by the numerous EU R&I activities that provide the evidence base to implement the European Green Deal :

·The Commission published a Green Deal Industrial Plan , along with the Net-Zero Industry Act and the Critical Raw Materials Act , to boost the competitiveness of Europe’s net-zero industry and support the transition to climate neutrality with specific actions on R&I, for instance on green hydrogen;

·new pieces of EU legislation were adopted, such as  RefuelEU Aviation,   FuelEU Maritime , and the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation ;

·in January, the Commission presented a New Deal for Pollinators to support research into pollinators and the causes and consequences of their decline;

·in July, the Commission presented a proposal for a directive on soil monitoring and resilience and in November a monitoring framework for resilient European forests,  to provide better knowledge on European forests;

·the important role of EU R&I in fostering systemic adaptation to climate change is acknowledged in the Report on the implementation of the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change accompanying the 2023 EU Climate Action Progress Report;

·improved auction design and non-price award criteria supporting innovation as part of the European wind power action plan ;

·the EU action plan for grids  notes that R&I is key for electricity grids to upgrade to smart grids, becoming digital, monitored in real-time, remotely controllable and cybersecure;

·the Communication on the revision of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan  supports the development of clean, efficient and cost-competitive energy technologies through collaboration in clean energy research;

·actions under the New European Innovation Agenda in low-carbon technologies, the circular economy and the digital transition contributed to achieving the objectives of the green and digital transition;

·in December, the Commission adopted the one substance one assessment package, containing three legislative proposals to improve the knowledge base on chemicals;

·the EU expanded the scope and size of the Innovation Fund , a key EU funding instrument for the take-up of R&I results and deployment of net-zero and innovative technologies to decarbonise Europe;

·the proposal on the  right to repair and initiatives on microplastics , building on the results of EU R&I projects to improve product circularity and prevent microplastic pollution;

·the third AgriResearch conference identified future research and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas;

·under the Food 2030 initiative, a conference was held in December and a  report  was released, outlining R&I pathways to transform food;

·the Commission adopted the Fisheries and Ocean Package , including the marine action plan  with a section focusing on strengthening research and innovation;

·2023 saw the adoption of the transition pathways for chemicals , construction and textiles , which identify specific research actions to enable the green transition;

·the European Chips Act entered into force in September 2023 aiming to boost Europes competitiveness and resilience through strong research activities in semiconductor technologies and applications;

·the Commission adopted a Communication on the long-term competitiveness of the EU that highlights R&I as one of the main drivers for long-term competitiveness. For instance, it suggests tax incentives, public-private partnerships and large-scale projects, especially in the key areas of clean technology, digitisation and biotechnology.

2.4Partnership with Member States

As of early December, out of the 613 R&I-related milestones that Member States must achieve to receive the corresponding  Recovery and Resilience Facility payments, 87 had been achieved (around 14%). EUR 5.98 billion had been disbursed to Member States, representing around 12.5% of the overall support allocated to R&I (EUR 48 billion).

In 2023, bilateral discussions between the Commission and Member States were consolidated through enhanced dialogues , which aim to create country-tailored approaches.

The EU also provided support to the Member States to improve their R&I system by a concerted roll-out of the Policy Support Facility . This involved specific projects for Croatia, Greece, and Romania and the launch of mutual learning exercises on citizen engagement, EU research missions, foresight, knowledge valorisation and industrial decarbonisation.

To boost the attractiveness of careers in research, in July the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Recommendation on a European framework to attract and retain research, innovation and entrepreneurial talents .

To oversee implementation of the new European Research Area (ERA), a monitoring and reporting system was put in place and the first  ERA Monitoring ‘EU-level report’  was published in November.

Several targeted info days took place in less successful countries in the Widening part  of Horizon Europe.

In August, the Commission adopted its  third report on the application of the European Research Infrastructure Consortium Regulation, which has become a legal instrument for infrastructure initiatives.

2.5Direct actions implemented by the Joint Research Centre of the Commission

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) supported numerous Commission initiatives and among many activities:

·launched the  EU observatory, covering deforestation and forest degradation worldwide , that will help protect and restore forests;

·launched the  European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency , which will support efforts in regulating digital services;

·contributed to the 2023 Strategic Foresight Report , which builds on the Science for Policy Report  on social and economic choices in sustainability transitions ;

·launched the Atlas of Migration , which provides data on migration and contains a thematic section on people displaced from Ukraine following Russia’s war of aggression.

3.Implementation and Monitoring of Horizon Europe and Euratom

3.1.Horizon Europe in 2023 – Highlights & new features

In March, the Commission amended the ‘main’ Horizon Europe work programme 2023-2024, to further foster R&I for supporting civil security for society and renewable energy, increasing the budget for the work programme by around EUR 55 million to a total of over EUR 13.5 billion.

The Commission implemented the  new eligibility criterion on gender equality plans and created a new  EU Award for Gender Equality Champions .

Association to Horizon Europe

In 2023, the number of associated countries reached 17. In January 2024, the United Kingdom became the 18th.

New Zealand was associated retroactively as from 1 January 2023, which was the first associated country beyond the geographical vicinity of the EU.

The leaders at the EU-Canada Summit announced the conclusion of substantive negotiations. The agreement associating Canada to Horizon Europe is expected to be signed in mid-2024.

In November, the Commission endorsed the Common Understanding negotiated between the EU and Switzerland that has enabled exploratory talks for Switzerland’s association.

The launch of formal association negotiations with the Republic of Korea was announced at the EU-Korea Summit in May.

Discussions have continued at technical level with Japan and Singapore on prospects for association to Horizon Europe.

3.2.Horizon Europe monitoring data

Calls and topics

Source: CPS data extracted on 09.01.2024

The 284 calls for proposals launched by end of 2023 under the Horizon Europe main work programmes 2021-2022 and 2023-2024 covered a total of 1 581 research topics with a budget of EUR 25.6 billion. 77% of those calls had been fully evaluated by end of 2023.

The proposed topics aimed to attract R&I projects that will help tackle the Commission’s priorities for 2019-2024 . Around 28% of the topics encouraged or required international cooperation.

Fig. 1: Percentage of topics tackling Commission policy priorities

The European Research Council  work programme announced 4 calls for frontier research grants with a total budget of EUR 2.12 billion. The calls were launched and fully evaluated.

Lastly, the European Innovation Council  opened funding opportunities worth some EUR 1.6 billion for breakthrough innovators through three main funding schemes: EIC Pathfinder (EUR 343 million), EIC Transition (EUR 128 million) and EIC Accelerator (EUR 1.13 billion).

Project proposals and success rates

Source: Horizon proposals dashboard frozen on 02.01.2024

The programme continued to raise great interest with around 64 000 eligible proposals submitted 1 over the period 2021-2023. The overall quality of proposals remained stable with half of eligible proposals (33 637, 52.6%) reaching the evaluation score threshold and assessed by external experts as of high quality.

The success rate of proposals increased to 17.3% (from 15.9% at the end of 2022 and 11.9% under Horizon 2020). Over 11 000 proposals were selected for funding for a total of EUR 32.6 billion.

However, two thirds (67.2%) of all high-quality proposals still lack funding. An additional budget of around EUR 54.4 billion would have been needed to fund all high-quality proposals submitted over 2021-2023.

Grants signed

Source: Horizon projects dashboard, frozen on 02.01.2024

Following the evaluation of the proposals, EUR 30.8 billion were awarded through 10 674 grants. Some grants were still under preparation at the end of 2023.The average grant size is EUR 2.9 million, higher than under Horizon 2020 (EUR 1.8 million). Average EU funding allocated to mono-beneficiary grants (44% of grants) is around EUR 1.2 million, against EUR 4.2 million for collaborative grants (56% of grants). On average, collaborative grants involve 11 participants.

Programme part

Eligible proposals

Selected proposals

Success rate of proposals (% of eligible)

EU contribution requested in selected proposals (in million EUR)

Signed grants

EU contribution in signed grants (in million EUR)

Average project size (participants)

Average grant size (in million EUR)

Pillar 1 - Excellent Science

European Research Council

22 856

3 235


5 621

2 903

4 990



Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

17 914

2 947


1 684

3 090

1 719



Research infrastructures









Pillar II - Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness

Cluster 1 Health

2 012



3 469


3 408



Cluster 2 Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society

1 591








Cluster 3 Civil Security for Society









Cluster 4 Digital, Industry and Space

4 419



5 568


5 223



Cluster 5 Climate, Energy and Mobility

3 834



6 704


6 228



Cluster 6 Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment

2 221



3 637


3 002



Pillar III – Innovative Europe

The European Innovation Council*

5 631



1 356


2 165



European innovation ecosystems

1 148








The European Institute of Innovation and Technology**




1 173





Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area

Widening participation and spreading excellence

1 135








Reforming and enhancing the European R&I System









Total for Horizon Europe

63 898

11 026


32 610

10 674

30 802



Table 1: Proposals and signed grants per pillar and programme part (Source: R&I proposals and R&I projects dashboards, frozen on 02.01.2024)    
*Figures for EIC Accelerator are incomplete (number of proposals) or missing (retained EU contribution, 2021-2022 calls)
** Figures refer to envelope grants to EIT KICs only

Tackling EU policy priorities

Source: Horizon Europe programme statement

Research and innovation play a significant role in accelerating the green transition. So far, preliminary monitoring figures combined with the 2023 estimated figures indicate a Horizon Europe's climate contribution close to 35% by the end of 2023. Preliminary ex post estimations reveal that spending on biodiversity has increased from 7.9% in 2021 to 8.7% in 2023.

Horizon Europe investments in the digital transformation for 2021-2023 are estimated at up to EUR 14 053.2 million, or 40% of the Horizon Europe budget for these years.

In 2023, EUR 50 million were allocated to projects whose principal objective is to improve gender equality and around EUR 1.7 billion to projects that contribute in some way to gender equality.

Applicants and beneficiaries

Source: Horizon projects dashboard, frozen on 02.01.2024

The projects signed in the first three years of the programme involve around 21 894 different participants from 163 different countries, including 34.1% from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Some 82.3% of the eligible applications submitted are from Member States and close to 25% of those applications come from 'widening' countries .

Entities located in associated countries submitted 6.1% of applications and entities located in third countries submitted 11.7% of all applications, of which half were from UK-based organisations.

Country group

Applications in eligible proposals

% of total number of applications

Success rate of application

Partici-pation in signed grants

% of all participations

EU contri-bution in signed grants (in million EUR)

% of total EU contribution in signed grants

Member States

268 153



61 008


28 334


Non-widening countries

205 413



48 378


24 141


Widening countries

62 740



12 630


4 193


Associated countries

19 761



3 929


2 024


Third Countries

37 999



7 392





325 913



72 329


30 802


Table 2: Applicants origin

The highest shares of participants come from higher education institutions (33.5%), private-sector entities (30.5%) and research organisations (22.5%).

The number of new participants to the programme increased from 36% in 2022 to 47%.

Overall, entities located in Member States were awarded EUR 28.3 billion (92% of the funds). Entities in widening countries were granted 13.6% of the funds. Entities located in associated countries were awarded over EUR 2 billion (6.6%) and non-associated third countries EUR 444 million (1.4%).

SMEs received 20.6% of the allocated Horizon Europe budget (EUR 6.6 billion), of which EUR 5.34 billion in grants (17% of Horizon Europe's allocated grant budget) and EUR 1.26 billion in direct investments through the EIC Fund.

First results

Data source: Key Impact Pathway dashboard frozen on 02.01.2024

Over 59 000 researchers have received support for upskilling activities under Horizon Europe; 45% of them women. Three years after the programme was launched, the funded projects (489 projects or 4.5% of all projects in progress) started to produce results. So far the projects have produced 843 peer-reviewed publications, and 1 804 innovative results . Only 174 projects (1.6%) had been closed at the time of this analysis.

Focus on European partnerships

Data source: Horizon projects dashboard frozen on 02.01.2024

By the end of 2023, 44 of the 49 partnerships identified in the Horizon Europe first strategic plan 2021-2024 had been set up.

Under the 10 active joint undertakings (institutionalised partnerships based on Article 187 TFEU ), 345 grants were signed for a total of EUR 2.9 billion (9.5% of Horizon Europe funds granted over 2021-2023). The partnerships involve around 3 000 different organisations, two thirds of which are private companies and 40% are SMEs. An additional EUR 2.75 billion were brought in by beneficiaries, representing 50% of the project investments. In November, the  Global Health European and Development Countries Clinical Trials Partnership , designed to study poverty-related and neglected infectious diseases, achieved autonomy.

As far as the co-funded partnerships are concerned, grant agreements were signed with eight consortia of beneficiaries under pillar II and with one consortium under pillar III for a total of EUR 680 million. Eight further partnerships were under preparation. The partners contributed between 50% and 70% of the funds (an additional EUR 1.65 billion) for R&I.

EUR 3.1 billion from Horizon Europe (around 10%) supported co-programmed partnerships and the project partners brought in an additional EUR 0.5 billion. 460 projects were financed over 2021-2023 involving 3 879 different organisations, a third of which were SMEs.

Focus on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)

The results achieved in 2023 included:

·1 576 people graduated from EIT-labelled master and doctoral programmes;

·72 start-ups were created by students from EIT programmes and 97 were the result of EIT innovation projects;

·945 start-ups received support from EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs);

·301 innovative products or services were put on the market by the EIT KICs.

Focus on EU missions

Source: Horizon proposals and project dashboards, frozen on 02/01/2024

An assessment of the EU missions was completed and reported in the first  Communication  analysing the selection process, governance, budget, focus and progress to date.

By the end of 2023, 36 mission calls had been launched, closed and fully evaluated. The calls for proposals attracted 856 eligible proposals, of which 215 were selected for funding for a total amount of EUR 1.7 billion.

173 Horizon Europe grants involving 2 386 participants were signed for a total amount of EUR 1.43 billion split 2 as follows across the five missions:

Fig. 2: Mission grants in %

Although it is too early to fully assess the impact of the five targeted missions, some selected achievements can already be reported:

·The Mission on Adaptation to Climate Change  launched its implementation platform providing services to 311 regions and local authorities. The first 21 projects started and tackled issues such as testing and demonstrating solutions for climate resilience.

·By early December, over 2 000 individuals and 370 organisations had committed to supporting the  Mission A Soil Deal for Europe . 20 more proposals, including the first living labs, were selected for funding.

·The Mission to Restore our Ocean and Waters  launched the Mission Service Portal . Nearly 600 actions have signed the Mission Charter .

·The Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities reached a major milestone when the first 10 participating cities were awarded the Mission Label .

3.3. In-depth analysis: Horizon monitoring flashes and other studies

The Commission has published a  report and a factsheet on the participation of newcomers in EU R&I framework programmes and a factsheet on Horizon Europe key implementation data for 2021-2022. It has also published reports on how the R&I programmes have contributed to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services , and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change .

3.4Dissemination and exploitation

The programme continued to use the established dissemination tools  the Horizon Results platform , Horizon Results Booster , CORDIS , Horizon Dashboard  and the EU Innovation Radar to provide usable results.

It also carried out further dissemination activities:

·The Commission awarded the 2023 Security Innovation Award , celebrating outstanding examples of R&I that benefit EU citizens’ security.

·20 events on topics ranging from bioterrorism to disaster resilience in the framework of the Community of European Research and Innovation for Security brought together policymakers, researchers, industry and civil society for exchanges including dissemination of security research results.

·The Transport Research and Innovation Monitoring and Information System  analysed European R&I project results in mobility and transport.

·To mark the European Year of Skills, the Commission published a Cordis Results Pack  showcasing the work of 13 research projects funded under Horizon 2020 in training, reskilling and upskilling.

·In March, the  Science is Wonderful!  Initiative enabled 4 000 school pupils from across Europe to engage with leading scientists.

·In September, the European Researchers Night  took place in 26 countries attracting over 1.5 million visitors and displaying the impact of science on peoples daily lives.

·In May, a high-level event wrapped up the project Citizen Voices for the EU Climate Transition , resulting in national and European roadmaps identifying specific action to be undertaken with the active participation of citizens.

3.5Implementing and monitoring the Euratom programme 2021-2025

a)Nuclear direct actions implemented by the JRC

The JRC has supported the European Commission’s response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine by carrying out radioactivity environmental monitoring, nuclear safety and emergency preparedness response.

The JRC worked with the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency and contributed to reports and case studies on small nuclear reactors and their potential future role in decarbonisation. 

In the field of Alpha Therapy activity to treat cancer, the JRC co-organised with the University of Pretoria, the International Symposium of Targeted Alpha Therapy TAT12 .

As part of its foresight activities, the JRC performed a Horizon Scanning for Nuclear Safety and Security published in a yearly report .

The JRC published 111 peer-reviewed articles in nuclear areas such as the safety of spent nuclear fuel, materials, radioactive waste management, medical applications or environmental radiation measuring. It also provided 13 training courses to Member States under the European Nuclear Security Training Centre programme.

b)Indirect actions of the Euratom Research & Training Programme (grants)

In March, the Commission adopted the Euratom work programme for 2023-2025 , which made EUR 132 million available for research for the EU’s security of energy supply while ensuring the highest standards of safety. At the launch event, the Commission signed a declaration on EU SMR 2030: Research & Innovation, Education & Training  which focused on the key role of R&I, education and training for Small Modular Reactors development.

In August, the Euratom-funded project EURAMED Rocc-n-Roll presented a strategic research roadmap for medical applications of ionising radiation for better and individualised healthcare; one of the cornerstones of Europe’s Beating Cancer plan and the Cancer Mission .

The Euratom co-funded partnership, EUROfusion, achieved the research goals of its third deuterium-tritium experimental campaign at the Joint European Torus device . The experiments explored fusion processes and control techniques in preparation for future fusion power plants.

In September, the Commission launched a call for the 2024 SOFT Innovation Prize , recognising and showcasing innovation in fusion research and rewarding excellent research.

4.Outlook 2024

In 2024, the Commission will adopt the next Horizon Europe strategic plan for 2025-2027, identifying the R&I priorities for the second half of Horizon Europe. On its basis the Horizon Europe work programme 2025 will be drafted.

In 2024, the Commission will continue to promote EU missions and partnerships and Horizon Europe R&I activities. By way of example, it will mark 40 years of the EU’s research and innovation framework programmes and their role in creating a more positive future during the European Research and Innovation Days .

(1)  Only under the calls that are closed and fully evaluated.
(2)  Expenditure for horizontal projects or joint projects between missions is split equally between the missions to which the projects contribute.