Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development

The Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, also called Framework Programmes or abbreviated FP1 to FP7 with "FP8" being named "Horizon 2020", are funding programmes created by the European Union/European Commission to support and foster research in the European Research Area. The specific objectives and actions vary between funding periods. In FP6 and FP7 focus was still in technological research, in Horizon 2020 the focus is in innovation, delivering economic growth faster and delivering solutions to end users that are often governmental agencies.


Conducting European research policies and implementing European research programmes is an obligation under the Amsterdam Treaty, which includes a chapter on research and technological development. The programmes are defined by Commission civil servants that are aided by various official advisory group and lobby groups. E.g. to advise the European Commission on the overall strategy to be followed in carrying out the Information and Communication Technology thematic priority, the Information Society Technologies Advisory Group was set up.

The framework programmes

The framework programmes up until Framework Programme 6 covered five-year periods, but from Framework Programme 7 on, programmes run for seven years. The Framework Programmes, and their budgets in billions of Euros, are presented in the table below. For FP1–FP5, program expenditures were made in European Currency Units; from FP6 onward budgets were in Euros. The values presented below are in Euros.
IDFramework ProgrammeperiodBudget
FP7Seventh2007–201350.5 over seven years
+ 2.7 for Euratom over five years
FP8Horizon 2020 2014–202077
FP9Horizon Europe2021–2027not defined yet

Funding instruments

FP6 and FP7

Framework Programme 6 and 7 projects were generally funded through instruments, the most important of which included:
Note also the FP7 Joint Technology Initiatives in partnership with industry.

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the eighth framework programme funding research, technological development, and innovation. The programme's name has been modified to "Framework Programme for Research and Innovation". The framework programme is implemented by the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, either by various internal directorate general, such as the directorate general for research and innovation or the directorate general for communications networks, content and Technology, or by executive agencies such as the Research Executive Agency, the Executive Agency for SMEs, or the ERC Executive Agency. The framework programme's objective is to complete the European Research Area by coordinating national research policies and pooling research funding in some areas to avoid duplication. Horizon 2020 itself is seen as a policy instrument to implement other high-level policy initiatives of the European Union, such as Europe 2020 and Innovation Union. The programme runs from 2014–20 and provides an estimated €80 billion of funding, an increase of 23 per cent on the previous phase.
Horizon 2020 provides grants to research and innovation projects through open and competitive calls for proposals. Legal entities from any country are eligible to submit project proposals to these calls. Participation from outside the European Union is explicitly encouraged.
Participants from European Union member states and countries associated to Horizon 2020 are automatically funded. Associated countries have signed an association agreement for the purposes of this framework programme. To date, 14 countries are associated to Horizon 2020.
Switzerland is considered as "partly associated" due to the 2014 referendums held by Switzerland, which free movement of workers between Switzerland and the EU. Swiss organisations continue to be active participants in Horizon 2020, however, their participation is sometimes covered by national funding. Israel is an "associated country" to Horizon 2020. A central point of negotiation was funding to projects beyond the Green Line. Israel published its views in an Appendix to the official documents.
Horizon 2020 supports Open access to research results, in order to create greater efficiency, improve transparency and accelerate innovation.
Horizon 2020 is also implementing the European environmental research and innovation policy, which is aimed at defining and turning into reality a transformative agenda for greening the economy and the society as a whole so as to achieve a truly sustainable development.
The programme consists of three main research areas that are called "pillars": The first pillar, "Excellent Science", focuses on basic science. It has a budget of 24 billion euro. The second pillar is "Industrial Leadership", with a budget of 14 billion euro. It is managed by DG Enterprise and based on Europe 2020 and Innovation Union strategies. The third pillar funds potential solutions to social and economic problems, "Societal challenges".
The structure follows the previous framework programme to the level of the sub-programmes under the pillars. In the industrial pillar the goal is to find ways to modernize European industries that have suffered from a fragmented European market. In societal challenges the goal is implementation of solutions, less on technology development.
Horizon 2020 will be succeeded by Horizon Europe.

Illustrative projects


IMPETUS is addressing the scientific analysis of information management requirements for a safe and efficient integration of unmanned aerial systems in very low level airspace. As a result, technologically and commercially feasible service solutions are elaborated and deployed in an experimental testing environment.
The expected growth of future UAS movements in rural as well as urban areas indicates the need for traffic management solutions, ensuring a normal course of trouble free operations of manned as well as unmanned aviation. IMPETUS contributes by investigating potential microservices that serve the airspace user's needs in all phases of the operation life cycle, from strategical planning over pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight data provision. Since information management is an infrastructural prerequisite of future unmanned traffic systems, the results support the European goal to gain in prosperity by means of the job and business opportunities of an emerging drone service market.
Ensuring a scalable, flexible and cost efficient system, IMPETUS proposes the application of the Function as a Service paradigm and Smart Concepts. Concurrently, data quality and integrity is taken into account to guarantee a safe conduct of all operations. To fulfil these purposes, the project started to characterize data processes and services of vital importance for drone operations. Following the requirements derived from this preliminary studies, a Smart UTM Design is drafted in alignment with the U-Space concept, which describes a framework for a progressive implementation of services to “enable complex drone operations with a high degree of automation to take place in all types of operational environments, including urban areas.” Subsequently, specific microservices will be prototyped and laboratory scale tested in a server-less cloud-based environment.
On behalf of the SESAR Joint Undertaking, IMPETUS is carried out from 2017 – 2019 by a multinational consortium of key stakeholders in unmanned aviation:
Altitude Angel, Boeing Research and Technology Europe, C-Astral, CRIDA, INECO, Jeppesen and the Technical University of Darmstadt.


A network of Open Access repositories, archives and journals that support Open Access policies. The OpenAIRE Consortium is a Horizon 2020 project, aimed to support the implementation of the EC and ERC Open Access policies.
The Zenodo research data repository is a product of OpenAIRE. The OpenAIRE portal is online.

Criticism of the programmes

The programmes have been criticized on various grounds, such as actually diminishing Europe's industrial competitiveness and failing to deliver fundamental excellence and global economic competitiveness. In 2010, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency launched a petition calling for a simplification of administrative procedures, which attracted over 13,000 signatories. The numerous other criticisms of the petitioners were later distilled into a green paper. In Horizon 2020 there are significant simplifications: e.g. fewer funding rates, less reporting, less auditing, shorter time from proposal to project kick-off.