The EU missions are a new collaborative approach used to tackle some of the main challenges of our times. Inspired by the experience of working together and mobilising resources at a large scale to address the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, they provide a mandate to achieve specific goals in a set time frame and rely on research and innovation to have real impact. They will also engage with citizens, including young people. “The missions are a way to mobilise society as a whole to contribute to achieving certain policy goals,” comments Charles Betz, Senior Advisor – European R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation.
The missions focus on major, urgent crises that have to be addressed. “Continuing with the status quo is not an option,” claims the European Commission on its website. “We need a bold and ambitious policy that sets clear goals to shape the future we want to live in.”
The target of the missions is to deliver the following aims:
- Adapting to climate change: support at least 150 European regions and communities to become climate resilient by 2030
- Fighting cancer: improving the lives of more than 3 million people by 2030 through prevention, cure and, for those affected by the disease, longer and better lives
- Restoring our ocean and waters by 2030: protect 30% of the EU’s sea area and restore marine ecosystems and 25,000 km of rivers, prevent and eliminate pollution and make the blue economy climate-neutral
- Supporting 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030: support 100 European cities or more in their transformation towards climate neutrality by 2030 and turn these cities into innovation hubs
- Establishing a “soil deal” for Europe: set up 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030
“The focus of the missions is to develop synergies at the local level and involve citizens as well as cities and regions,” says Rébecca Damotte, Advisor – European R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation. “Mobilising all relevant players is essential for a successful participation.”
Horizon Europe, the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation, is an important instrument for the implementation of the missions. The first Horizon Europe work programme for 2021-2022, published in June 2021, includes a set of actions that lay the ground for the implementation of the missions. It will be updated with a full research and innovation agenda by the end of this year. However, the implementation of the missions goes beyond Horizon Europe.
“The missions focus on achieving an overall goal, rather than on the implementation of specific research projects,” explains Dr Betz. “There is not yet any clear way for how to reach these goals, but rather a set of stepping stones: research projects, coordination project and policy actions. The outcomes of a first round of such initiatives will build the foundation for the next phase or set of calls for proposals and actions. The civil society, associations, policy makers, the private sector and other need to play an active role in order to mobilise enough support to reach a critical mass of ideas and resources.”
The first calls for proposals with topics specifically related to the missions will be published by the end of 2021. Luxembourg organisations interesting in being involved are welcome to contact the Horizon Europe National Contact Point at Luxinnovation for further information, advice and support.