Historical Development of European Partnerships

Horizon Europe supports European Partnerships to deliver on global challenges and industrial modernisation through concerted R&I effort with the Member States, private sector, foundations and other stakeholders. In European R&I policy making, the concept of Partnerships has been used since FP6. In the following, we describe the evolution of the main partnership instruments and the process towards building the partnerships in Horizon Europe. You can find a complete overview on former types of partnerships here.

Transition Phase to Horizon Europe

In the course of the preparation of Horizon Europe, the discussions at the Informal Meeting of Ministers of July 2017 resulted in a general recognition by the Member States of the continued relevance of Partnerships, and called for a reformed approach tackling the complexity of the landscape and ensuring its coherence and optimal coordination.

The Council Conclusions of 1 December 2017 provided guidance for rationalising the partnership landscape: R&I partnerships in the FP should be implemented based on the principles of EU added value, transparency, openness, impact, leverage effect, long-term financial commitment of all the involved parties, flexibility, coherence, and complementarity with EU, national and regional initiatives. All partnership initiatives should have an exit strategy from FP funding.

As a follow-up, an ERAC Ad-hoc Working Group on Partnerships was established in 2018. Its mandate was to propose e.g. criteria for selecting, implementing, monitoring and phasing out the R&I partnerships based on the guiding principles, options for rationalising the R&I partnership landscape and the set-up and implementation of this process.

Horizon Europe follows an overall policy approach for all kinds of Partnerships three new formatsof European Partnerships:1) Co-programmed partnerships, 2) Co-funded partnerships and 3) Institutionalised partnerships.

In May 2019, the Commission launched a consultation of Member States on possible candidates for European Partnerships as part of a strategic coordinating process. The feedback was summarised and the final list of partnerships was discussed at the Shadow Strategic Programme Committee. The list of candidate European Partnerships can be found in Annex 7 of the Orientations towards the first Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe.

In May 2020 the Commission started to publish detailed descriptions of partnerships (Draft Partnership Proposals). Member States had been invited to provide their tentative commitments by mid October 2020. Commitments of Industry partners will be collected in autumn as well.

In October 2020, the European Commission stressed in its New ERA Communication that European Partnerships are essential for prioritizing investments and reforms in research and innovation towards the green and digital transition and to support Europe’s economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic and sets a target of spending 5% of national public funding to joint research and development programmes and European partnerships by 2030.

On 23 February 2021 the European Commission presented its proposals for 9 Joint Undertakings based on Art. 187 TFEU and a proposal on the European Partnership on Metrology based on Art. 185 TFEU.

On 14 June 2021, the Commission adopted Commission Decision C(2021)4113 on the approval and signature of the memoranda of understanding for 11 Co-Programmed Partnerships. With over €8 billion from Horizon Europe, the partnerships will run from 2021 to 2030, allowing them to provide input into the last calls of Horizon Europe and wrap up their final activities afterwards.