Horizontal Pillar - Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area

R&I policy can only strive to achieve greater excellence if everyone progresses. The EU's R&I system needs to promote a more inclusive approach, in which all can participate and from which all can benefit. Existing disparities in Research and Innovation (R&I) between R&I-leading and R&I-lagging countries (the countries eligible for the widening programme are EU13, Portugal, Greece and all Associated Countries with equivalent characteristics in terms of R&I performance) and Outermost Regions (defined in Article 349 TFEU) can be tackled by introducing structural policy reforms.

Closer links between research and innovation and institutional cooperation to produce high-quality knowledge are also paramount in order to help bridge these disparities. By upgrading these pockets and connecting them to broader networks of excellence, countries that are less advanced in terms of R&I will be able to upgrade their R&I systems, thereby making them stronger and allowing the EU as a whole to advance together.

This part of the programme entitled "Improving access to excellence: towards more excellence and stronger R&I systems across the whole of the EU where best practice is disseminated faster across Europe" responds in particular to the second policy priority of the ERA communication. Member States that are not performing as well in terms of R&I and are willing to increase the performance of their R&I system on the road to achieving excellence will be encouraged and supported. This will be based upon dedicated Horizon Europe measures and complementarities with smart specialisation strategies that are in keeping with Cohesion Policy.

The key objectives of these parts are the following:

  1. To encourage reforms and transformation processes of the R&I system at institutional, national and regional level in widening countries in line with ERA principles
  2. To mobilise national investments in R&I capacity in widening countries
  3. To raise the bar for excellence of R&I actors in widening countries in partnership with outstanding European and international institutions ('win-win situation')
  4. To increase the number of participations and the success rates of widening actors in research and innovation projects in other parts of Horizon Europe (notably in pillars 2 and 3)
  5. To promote the creation of new and upscaling of existing innovation ecosystems by a set of measures, which include, among other, place based and international collaboration between academia and business in widening countries
  6. To foster "brain circulation", including inter-sectoral mobility for researchers and innovators and turn it into brain gain for widening countries