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Research and innovation

Research and innovation strategy 2020-2024

Research and innovation for the future we want

New knowledge and breakthrough innovation will drive the green and digital transformations that are underway in our society. They will help us move faster towards a sustainable and prosperous future for people and planet, based on solidarity and respect for shared European values.

Research and innovation policy will play a key role in responding to the challenges brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic. It will help deliver Europe's recovery plan, paving the way out of the current crisis on the path to a fairer future, based on economic growth that respects the planet.

Helping deliver the Commission's 6 goals

The Commission has set 6 broad political goals. Research and innovation will be a key driver in achieving each of them. 

Environment and climate

Environmental degradation and especially the climate emergency threaten Earth’s critical life-support systems and the future of the world as we know it. We need to act quickly and firmly. That is why Europe the EU is leading the world with a plan that will make us the first climate-neutral continent – meaning we will produce no more greenhouse gases than our ecosystems can naturally absorb.

The European Green Deal is not just good for the planet - it will also create jobs, help us rebuild the economy after the coronavirus crisis and secure a better future for generations to come in which no person or place is left behind.

Knowledge and solutions from research and innovation will help restore ecosystems, give space to nature and radically transform how we do things, setting Europe and the world on a more sustainable path

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Our digital future

The Commission is determined to make this Europe's digital decade. The EU’s digital strategy will empower people with a new generation of technologies.

Europe must strengthen its digital sovereignty and set standards, rather than following those of others – with a clear focus on data, technology, and infrastructure.

High-quality science, knowledge and innovation accelerate all aspects of the digital and industrial transformations and will bring us closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

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Jobs and economy

People and businesses in Europe can only thrive if the economy works for them, but we need to rethink the way we produce and consume.

The new concept of Industry 5.0 recognises the power of industry to achieve societal goals to become a resilient provider of prosperity, by making production respect the boundaries of our planet and placing the wellbeing of workers at the centre of the production process.

Science and innovation can help us find ways to move quicker to becoming a circular economy where materials have lower environmental impacts and waste is minimised.

Research will also find ways to make industry greener. It can make us all more prosperous, while at the same time reducing poverty and inequality, and protecting the environment. The EU supports growth that creates quality jobs, especially for young people and small businesses. This helps to create new home-grown businesses and also makes Europe an attractive place for businesses to invest.

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Protecting our citizens and our values

Protecting our citizens and defending European values is at the heart of the European Union.

Research and innovation will play a key role in tackling emerging threats and improving crisis preparedness.

Improving and protecting people's health at all ages is a top priority. The Commission is building a European Health Union, in which EU countries respond together to health crises, and patients receive the best possible care for diseases such as cancer.

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Europe in the world

It is vital to strengthen the EU as a global leader while ensuring the highest standards of climate, environmental and labour protections.

The EU will strengthen its voice in the world by championing multilateralism and a rules-based global order. A strong, fair and open approach to trade makes Europe an attractive place for business.

Priorities are strategic international cooperation, strengthening Europe's role in global and multilateral initiatives and a revamped association policy for Horizon Europe.

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Democracy and rights

Democracy in the EU is facing great challenges ranging from rising extremism, election interference to spread of manipulative information and threats against journalists – offline and online.

We learnt our lesson: democracy cannot be taken for granted. People need a stronger voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

While modern technology helps their voices to be heard, it can also diffuse disinformation, online hate, polarisation and distrust. The EU is increasing the pressure on online platforms to adopt best practices, and supporting research in technology and the social sciences that will help to protect and build more resilient democracies across the EU.

Horizon Europe will help develop innovations, policies and institutions to support democratic processes and enhance trust in democratic institutions, through improved transparency, accountability, rule of law and equality, including gender equality.

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Strategy document

Publication cover
Strategic plan8 October 2020
Strategic plan 2020-2024 – Research and Innovation

DG Research and Innovation will contribute to all six headline ambitions of the von der Leyen Commission, as well as contributing to a modern, high performing and sustainable European Commission. The DG will deliver important parts of the recovery plan for Europe based on climate, digital, health and resilience.