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Research and innovation
News article25 June 2020Directorate-General for Research and Innovation3 min read

Top experts propose potential EU missions for further consultation with Europeans

Today, high-level independent experts proposed potential EU missions: bold goals to be achieved within a set timeframe aimed at tackling some of our greatest global challenges. These challenges include cancer, adaptation to climate change, healthy oceans, climate-neutral cities and healthy soil and food. Until September, people across Europe will be consulted on the proposals for potential EU missions to make sure that they are relevant for them and make a real difference.

The five possible missions proposed by the Mission Boards, the independent experts advising the European Commission, are:

  • Conquering Cancer: Mission Possible - By 2030, more than 3 million more lives saved, living longer and better: achieve a thorough understanding of cancer, improve prevention, improve diagnosis and treatment, support the quality of life of all people exposed to cancer, and ensure equitable access to the above across Europe.
  • Accelerating The Transition To A Climate Prepared And Resilient Europe – 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 triggering societal transformations.
  • Regenerating our Ocean and Waters - 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. Support, promote and showcase 100 European cities in their systemic transformation towards climate neutrality by 2030 and turn these cities into experimentation and innovation hubs.
  • Caring for Soil is Caring for Life – By 2030, at least 75% of all soils in the EU are healthy and are able to provide essential services that we depend on, for healthy food, people, nature and climate.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said:

“Missions will be crucial for the transformation of Europe into a greener, healthier, more resilient continent for all.  Since September last year, the five Mission Boards have been working closely together with citizens to shape these ambitious missions. I am looking forward to hearing fellow Europeans’ views on these proposals, to ensure they capture their vision and meet their expectations.”

A number of online citizen engagement events will take place over the summer to further listen to the priorities of Europeans and gather their ideas. This will ensure that the proposed missions are aligned with their needs.

The Mission Boards will hand over their final recommendations to the Commission at the ‘European Research & Innovation Days’ (22-24 September 2020). The Commission will announce its selected missions at the end of 2020. The missions will launch in 2021 as part of Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation programme.


Partly inspired by the Apollo programme to put a man on the moon, EU missions are a commitment to solve major societal challenges like fighting cancer, adapting to climate change, protecting our oceans, living in greener cities and ensuring soil health and food. Each EU mission will have a specific timeframe and budget according to their degree of challenge. They will go beyond research and innovation, and will spark innovation across sectors to deliver effective solutions. The final missions will play a crucial role in achieving EU priorities such as the European Green Deal and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. At global level, missions will be a major contribution to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

For each of the five challenges, the Commission has appointed a Mission Board  consisting of up to 15 high-level independent experts to provide advice on the contents and design of specific missions. A selection process ensured that the Boards are composed of first-rate and highly motivated experts from a wide range of backgrounds, including academics, innovators, civil society, industry, finance and end-users. The Mission Boards are chaired by the following individuals: 

  1. Professor Gualtiero Walter Ricciardi, Director of the Department of Public Health at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, for the mission area on ‘Cancer’.
  2. Ms Connie Hedegaard, former European Commissioner for Climate Action, for the mission area on ‘Adaptation to Climate Change including Societal Transformation’.
  3. Mr Pascal Lamy, former Trade Commissioner and Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, for the mission on ‘Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters’
  4. Professor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, former Mayor of Warsaw, for the mission area on ‘Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities’.
  5. Mr Cees Veerman, former Dutch Agriculture Minister, for the mission area on ‘Soil Health and Food’.

More information

Video: Let’s fulfil our EU missions

Missions in Horizon Europe

Mission area: cancer

Mission area: adaptation to climate change including societal transformation

Mission area: healthy oceans, seas coastal and inland waters

Mission area: climate-neutral and smart cities

Mission area: soil health and food


Publication date
25 June 2020
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation