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Research and innovation

EU Missions in Horizon Europe

What missions are, the areas they will focus on, studies and reports that led to this approach, how to get involved and relevant events.

What are EU Missions?

EU Missions are a new way to bring concrete solutions to some of our greatest challenges. They have ambitious goals and will deliver concrete results by 2030.

They will deliver impact by putting research and innovation into a new role, combined with new forms of governance and collaboration, as well as by engaging citizens.

EU Missions are a novelty of the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme for the years 2021-2027.

They support Commission priorities, such as the European Green Deal, Europe fit for the Digital Age, Beating Cancer and the New European Bauhaus. For instance, Mission Climate is already a concrete element of the new Climate Adaptation Strategy, Mission Cancer of the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and the Mission Soil is a flagship initiative of the Long-term Vision for the EU’s Rural Areas.

EU Missions are a coordinated effort by the Commission to pool the necessary resources in terms of funding programmes, policies and regulations, as well as other activities. They also aim to mobilise and activate public and private actors, such as EU Member States, regional and local authorities, research institutes, farmers and land managers, entrepreneurs and investors to create real and lasting impact. Missions will engage with citizens to boost societal uptake of new solutions and approaches.

EU Missions will support Europe’s transformation into a greener, healthier, more inclusive and resilient continent. They aim to bring tangible benefits to people in Europe and engage Europeans in their design, implementation and monitoring.

Each mission will operate as a portfolio of actions – such as research projects, policy measures or even legislative initiatives - to achieve a measurable goal that could not be achieved through individual actions.

A wide range of studies and reports informed this approach.

EU missions will

  • be bold, inspirational and widely relevant to society
  • be clearly framed: targeted, measurable and time-bound
  • establish impact-driven but realistic goals
  • mobilise resources on EU, national and local levels
  • link activities across different disciplines and different types of research and innovation
  • make it easier for citizens to understand the value of investments in research and innovation

The 5 EU Missions

  1. Adaptation to Climate Change: support at least 150 European regions and communities to become climate resilient by 2030
  2. Cancer: working with Europe's Beating Cancer Plan to improve the lives of more than 3 million people by 2030 through prevention, cure and solutions to live longer and better
  3. Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030
  4. 100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030
  5. A Soil Deal for Europe: 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030

Implementation plans for the Missions

Factsheet27 September 2021
EU Missions. Concrete solutions for our greatest challenges

EU Missions are about what we can do together to shape the future we want to live in.

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Making Missions happen

Commission approach and mission management

In February 2021, mission managers were appointed in the European Commission to lead EU Missions and be their public face.

Clara de la Torre

Deputy Director-General at Directorate General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA)

Mission manager for the  Adaptation to Climate Change mission

Joanna Drake

Deputy Director-General at Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD)

Mission manager for the Cancer mission

Kestutis Sadauskas

Deputy Director-General at Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs Fisheries (DG MARE)

Mission manager for the Restore our Ocean and Waters mission

Patrick Child

Deputy Director-General at Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
Mission manager for the Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities mission

Magda Kopczynska

Deputy Director-General at Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI)

Mission manager for the Soil Deal for Europe mission

The mission managers are working closely with the deputy mission managers, most of whom are based in Directorate General for Research and Innovation: Philippe Tulkens (Missions Climate), John F. Ryan (Mission Cancer) from Directorate General for Health and Food Safety, John Bell (Mission Ocean), Rosalinde Van der Vlies (Mission Cities) and Peter Wehrheim (Mission Soil).

In 2019, five Mission Boards were formed to help specify, design and start the implementation of Missions for Horizon Europe. Their mandate ended at the end of 2021. 

In September 2022, new Mission Boards were announced. Each Mission Board consists of 15 experts, including a Chair. They promote the EU Missions by raising citizens’ awareness, advise on the actions of the Missions’ implementation plans and build on the work of the Mission Boards from the first phase. Their formation was the result of an open call for expressions of interest and their mandate will run from 2022 to 2025.

Each mission area was also supported by the Missions' design phase by an assembly that gathered a larger number of high-level experts. The assemblies provided an additional pool of ideas, knowledge and expertise that will be actively called upon to contribute to the success of the missions.

The Commission engaged with citizens in a continuous process for the design, monitoring and assessment of the Missions.

More about mission board chairs, lists of board and assembly members

5 missions were proposed by Mission Boards

At the European Research & Innovation Days (22-24 September 2020), each Mission Board presented their proposals to the European Commission for possible EU Missions.

The Mission Boards discussed with stakeholders as well as citizens, listening to their expectations and needs through a series of events across EU countries.

Titles of the Mission Boards reports were

  • Conquering Cancer: Mission Possible
    Targets by 2030: more than 3 million more lives saved, living longer and better, achieve a thorough understanding of cancer, prevent what is preventable, optimise diagnosis and treatment, support the quality of life of all people exposed to cancer, and ensure equitable access to the above across Europe.
  • A Climate Resilient Europe - Prepare Europe for climate disruptions and accelerate the transformation to a climate resilient and just Europe by 2030
    Targets by 2030: prepare Europe to deal with climate disruptions, accelerate the transition to a healthy and prosperous future within safe planetary boundaries and scale up solutions for resilience that will trigger transformations in society.
  • Mission Starfish 2030: Restore our Ocean and Waters
    Targets by 2030: cleaning marine and fresh waters, restoring degraded ecosystems and habitats, decarbonising the blue economy in order to sustainably harness the essential goods and services they provide.
  • 100 Climate-Neutral Cities by 2030 - by and for the citizens
    Targets by 2030: support, promote and showcase 100 European cities in their systemic transformation towards climate neutrality by 2030 and turn these cities into innovation hubs for all cities, benefiting quality of life and sustainability in Europe.
  • Caring for Soil is Caring for Life
    Targets by 2030: at least 75% of all soils in the EU are healthy for food, people, nature and climate. The proposed mission combines research and innovation, education and training, investments and the demonstration of good practices using “Living labs” (experiments and innovation in a laboratory on the ground) and “Lighthouses” (places to showcase good practices).

How to get involved

Citizens’ engagement is a key element for the EU Missions. We need broad participation from the public to make sure Missions are relevant and make a real difference. 

For example, Missions will involve people in online discussions and polls on social media such as the Conference on the Future of Europe, and citizen events and specialised conferences to discuss the focus of Missions.

Throughout the summer of 2020, the Commission together with partners held 10 citizen engagement events to collect proposals from the public for the five EU Missions. 2 sessions per mission were organised in 10 different European countries. Citizens could also upload their ideas on a digital platform. The reports summarise these contributions, which fed into Mission Board reports presented in September 2020.

Looking ahead, stakeholders should get involved in Missions via actions presented in the Horizon Europe work programme.

Discover all EU Missions and citizen engagement activities.



  • Report
  • Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

Foresight reports for Missions in Horizon Europe

Five foresight projects provided perspectives on possible futures to the Mission Boards. They identified good practice examples and developed scenarios.