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As a novelty, Horizon Europe has five missions ranging from cancer over climate-neutral cities to healthy oceans. The missions are anchored in research and innovation but also focus on engagement of society and improvement of structures for local, regional, national and international cooperation.

What is a Mission?

The concept of missions is found in several different contexts within research and innovation, both internationally and in a Danish context. For example, this is seen in the Danish government’s Green Research Strategy in which the missions will be the impetus for focusing and accelerating the research and innovation efforts and will constitute the framework for a multiannual effort. However, the concept is not completely identical, so what is a ‘mission’ in Horizon Europe?

According to the legislation behind Horizon Europe, a mission is a portfolio of excellence-based activities overarching sectors and scientific disciplines and attaining within a given time frame quantifiable results that could not have been attained in individual activities. These activities must have an impact on society and on political processes through the science and technology developed, and they must be relevant for a broad selection of Europe’s population.

So what it means is a way to group various activities that can tackle jointly difficult challenges requesting by nature a cross-sectoral approach. In addition, the missions approach also aims to better communicate on the work to the general public. It is about new research and innovation, but also about informing and engaging Europe’s citizens in the process.

How do the Missions Fit into the Rest of Horizon Europe?

The missions are anchored in pillar II in Horizon Europe, and the budget for the missions amounts to a maximum of 10% of the total budget for pillar II. This corresponds to around EUR 5 billion (current prices).

The missions will have their own work programme in Horizon Europe. It is expected that two work programmes are published during 2021:

  • A small programme in terms of budget and contents whose activities are part of the preparations for the actual implementation of the missions.
  • A work programme constituting the actual implementation of the missions.

Rules of participation, evaluation, and ranking of applications will generally follow the rules of Horizon Europe.

Five Mission Areas under Horizon Europe

Five mission areas have been established under which one or more missions will be established over the next seven years. Each area has a Mission Board consisting of external experts.

As a preliminary step, the Mission Boards have assisted in formulating the different missions, and the European Commission and the Member States will continue work in 2021. So far, one mission has been identified per area. In the future, the Mission Boards will act as advisors to the European Commission in the implementation of the missions.

About the Five Missions Areas

Adaption to Climate Change, including Societal Transformation

Mission: By 2030, Europe must be prepared for handling extreme weathers due to climate change. 200 European regions and communities must be supported in drawing up plans for a transition towards sustainability.


Mission: By 2030, more than 3 million more lives saved - living longer and better.

Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters

Mission: By 2030, cleaning marine and fresh waters, restoring degraded ecosystems and habitats, and decarbonising the blue economy.

Climate-neutral and Smart Cities

Mission: By 2030, 100 climate-neutral cities in Europe. The mission will support and promote 100 European cities in their systemic transformation towards climate neutrality and turn these cities into experimentation and innovation hubs.

Soil Health and Food

Mission: By 2030, at least 75% of all soils in the EU will be healthy and in a position to supply the essential products and services we need.

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last modified Jun 30, 2021