Member States reached agreement on the new EU budget

The EU member states finally reached an agreement on the new EU budget for 2021-2027.  The budget for the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme will increase significantly to more than 95 billion euros, an almost 20% raise compared to the current Horizon 2020 budget.

Agreement on EU budget: what preceded it

The EU member states already reached an agreement on the EU budget for 2021-2027 last month. At least it seemed so. Hungary and Poland vetoed the related rule of law mechanism and a crisis threatened. After new commitments, both countries gave up their resistance and at last the member states reached an agreement on the Multi Annual Financial Framework (1,075 billion euros) and the EU Recovery Fund (750 billion euros) on Thursday December 11. This paved the way for an evening and night of long and intensive negotiations on the new Horizon Europe programme and the budget breakdown.

What has changed?

Last week’s marathon negotiations resulted in several changes to the Horizon Europe budget. The most eye-catching changes for the overall Horizon Europe budget are:

  • 4 billion euros extra budget from the recently established EU Recovery Fund (Next Generation EU).
  • an ‘ordinary’ additional budget increase of 4.5 billion euros

If we look at the breakdown of the partial budgets within the total Horizon Europe budget, we see, among other things:

  • an additional 1.1 billion euros for the European Research Council, which brings the total ERC budget to just over 16 billion euros, making the ERC the big winner of the negotiations
  • an additional budget for the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), which means a total budget of more than 3 billion euros
  • an increase in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie budget of 314 million euros
  • 257 million euros are added to ‘Research Infrastructures’

What does the final Horizon Europe budget look like?

In table form the new Horizon Europe budget looks like this:

Pillar I Excellent and Open science  24,906
European Research Council (ERC) 16,099
Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions 6,401
Research infrastructures 2,405
Pillar II ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’  53,801
1. Health 7,962
2a. Inclusive and Creative Society 2,280
2b. Secure Society 1,881
3. Digital, Industry and Space 15,539
4. Climate energy and mobility 15,218
5. Food, Natural Resources and Agriculture 8,953
6. Non-nuclear direct actions of the JRC 1,970
Pillar III Innovative Europe 13,418
European Innovation Council (EIC) 9,736
European Innovation Ecosystem 527
European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) 3,155
IV Strenthening the European research Area 3,392
Spreading excellence and widening 2,954
Reforming and enhancing European (Union) R&I System 438


Also agreement on other EU programmes

With the agreement on the new Multi Annual Financial Framework with Horizon Europe as one of the eye-catchers, the Member States and the Parliament have also reached agreement on other EU programmes such as:


The popular Erasmus+ student programme is being greatly expanded, allowing access to many more types of students of all ages. The budget for the programme will be 26 billion euros – almost twice the budget of 14.7 billion euros for 2014-2020, and 2.2 billion euros more than the member states had previously agreed.

European Structural and Investment funds

Also in the field of regional policy and structural funds, the EU Member States and the European Parliament have set the budgets for the coming years. These include the:

  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
  • European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)
  • European Territorial Cooperation (Interreg)

The exact amount of the budgets has yet to be announced.

Connecting Europe Facility

The budgets for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) have also been set. The CEF programme is the EU’s financing instrument for strategic investments in transport, energy and digital infrastructure. The exact amounts will follow.

What does this mean in practice?

Meanwhile the European Parliament and the European Council have also adopted the Multi Annual Financial Framework 2021-2027, including the Horizon Europe budget. The European Commission says that the Horizon Europe programme will start “as soon as possible in 2021”.

So, get started with your research and innovation plans! In practice, a delay of a few months at the start does not have a major impact on potential beneficiaries, because the Commission had already drawn up contingency plans and will still be spending money from Horizon 2020 in the coming years.

Want to know more?

We closely follow the developments within Horizon Europe and inform you as soon as there are new developments. Do you have questions about Horizon Europe or another EU programme? Do not hesitate to contact us!