Horizon Europe Structure

Published on:
10 March 2021
Last checked on:
15 March 2021

Horizon Europe consists of 3 pillars and horizontal actions.

The relationship between the pillars and horizontal actions is presented in the diagram below.

Pillar 1: Excellent Science

The pillar Excellent Science aims to bring and keep science in Europe at the highest level. Also, the actions under this pillar contribute to making Europe an attractive location for the world's best researchers. Europe wants to attract and develop research talent and to provide access to the best research infrastructures.

This pillar consists of: 

Pillar 2: Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness

Pillar 2 focuses on the major challenges that the EU and the world are facing. These are listed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), among other things.

We need collaboration between parties from different sectors to tackle these problems. Parties could include research and educational institutions, industry, NGOs and others. Examples of challenges are health and well-being for everyone, a digital economy, solutions for climate change, the transition to a circular economy and the food problem.

Within Horizon Europe, you help bring innovative technologies from the lab to the market and develop new applications. Activities within pillar 2 aim at excellence and social impact. Applicants for this pillar are often consortia of public and private parties. These could include researchers from universities and companies, manufacturers, end-users, and so on. All parties involved bring together practical and technological knowledge through multidisciplinary collaboration.


  1. Health
  2. Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society
  3. Civil Security for Society 
  4. Digital, Industry and Space 
  5. Climate, Energy and Mobility 
  6. Food, Bio-economy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment 

You can find parts of the previous Horizon 2020 industrial pillar containing key technologies in pillar 2 Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness and pillar 3 Innovative Europe.

The Joint Research Center (JRC) is now in pillar 2. The JRC is the European Commission’s in-house scientific service. It supports European Union policy-making with independent, well-researched scientific advice.

Pillar 3: Innovative Europe

The third Horizon Europe pillar focuses on innovations that strengthen the competitiveness of the European Union. This pillar is now includes the European Innovation Council (EIC).

The EIC mainly focuses on individual innovative companies and consist of 2 parts:

  • Pathfinder for innovations with a low technology readiness level (TRL)
  • Accelerator for innovations with a high TRL. 

Also, pillar 3 offers possibilities for combining various forms of financing, including capital investment (equity).

The European Innovation Ecosystems is new to pillar 3. This part focuses on building and strengthening ecosystems. It connects regional and national innovation actors.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is also part of the third pillar of Horizon Europe. This is a European Union organisation that strengthens Europe's innovation capacity. The EIT stimulates innovation across Europe by integrating business, education and research to find solutions to important global challenges.

Horizontal actions

To strengthen the European Research Area (ERA), Horizon Europe uses various instruments via the horizontal pillar Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area. Examples of these instruments are Teaming, Twinning and European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST). 

Our advisors

Would you like to know more about the Pillars and Horizontal actions? Find out which advisor to contact.

Commissioned by:
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
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