Ex-post evaluation of Horizon 2020


This report sets out the EESC's views on the implementation and impact of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme for 2014-2020. The report focuses on three elements: SMEs; procedures and simplification; and synergies with other funds and instruments. To draw up this report, the EESC carried out in-depth interviews with a variety of civil society stakeholders, including the social partners, civil society organisations, research institutes, academics and public authorities in four countries (Croatia, Latvia, the Netherlands and Portugal).

Key points:

The EESC found that, overall, Horizon 2020 is assessed positively and is considered to have had a larger impact on society than earlier EU research and innovation programmes.

The following weaknesses have been pinpointed as something to bear in mind when designing future programmes:

  • SME involvement, which has remained low. In particular, the SME instrument, while making it possible for SMEs to form partnerships that they would otherwise not have had access to, still posed many hurdles when it came to accessing funding. The EESC therefore recommends lowering the barriers to greater SME involvement in future programmes;
  • Rigidity and red tape, which have also been highlighted as one of the programme's key shortcomings;
  • Failure to close the gap between older and newer Member States (EU15 vs EU13), considered by stakeholders to have been Horizon's 20220 main shortcoming.

Link to full opinion

Additional information:

Section: Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT)

Rapporteur: Gonçalo LOBO XAVIER (Employers - Portugal)

Opinion type: Evaluation report requested by the European Commission

Date of adoption by section: 10/03/2023

Result of section vote: 31 in favour, none against, with no abstentions

Date of adoption by the plenary session: 23/03/2023

Results of plenary session vote: 162 in favour, 2 against, with 3 abstentions


Daniela Marangoni

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