Horizon Europe Association Agreements: A Look at the Future of EU Research and Innovation Collaborations
Horizon Europe, the EU`s flagship research and innovation program, is set to launch in 2021 with a budget of €95.5 billion over the next seven years. As the largest ever EU research and innovation program, Horizon Europe aims to support scientific excellence and tackle societal challenges through collaborations across borders and disciplines.
However, the participation of non-EU countries in Horizon Europe is not guaranteed as the program requires a formal agreement with each country interested in participating. These agreements, known as Association Agreements, set out the conditions for the country`s participation in Horizon Europe and the financial contributions they will need to make.
In 2018, the European Commission proposed a model for Association Agreements with non-EU countries, which includes three categories of countries: Associated Countries, Third Countries, and International Organizations. Associated Countries are those that have already participated in Horizon 2020 and are expected to be part of Horizon Europe. Third Countries are those that have not participated in Horizon 2020 but have expressed an interest in participating in Horizon Europe. International Organizations, such as the European Space Agency, are eligible for Association Agreements as well.
The financial contributions required of non-EU countries under the proposed model are based on the country`s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and are divided into two parts: the first is a fixed contribution to the overall Horizon Europe budget, and the second is a proportional contribution to the budget of each of the program`s three pillars: Excellent Science, Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness, and Innovative Europe.
The proposed model has come under criticism from some non-EU countries, who argue that the financial contributions are too high and that the conditions of the Association Agreements are too restrictive. However, the European Commission maintains that the proposed model is fair and in line with the principles of the EU`s Single Market.
For non-EU countries, participating in Horizon Europe can bring significant benefits, including access to funding for research and innovation projects, networking opportunities with researchers and organizations across Europe, and access to cutting-edge technologies and knowledge. Participating in Horizon Europe can also lead to the development of new partnerships and collaborations, which can help to drive economic growth and innovation in non-EU countries.
Horizon Europe Association Agreements are thus a crucial part of the program and will determine the extent to which Horizon Europe can achieve its objectives of promoting scientific excellence and addressing societal challenges. As negotiations over Association Agreements continue, it remains to be seen which non-EU countries will participate in Horizon Europe and on what terms. However, it is clear that Horizon Europe holds great promise for research and innovation collaborations across Europe and beyond.