<< Blog

First Horizon Europe calls published: what about applicants from the UK and the Associated Countries?

12th March 2021 at 4:36 pm

Blog series 1/3: Third country partners

On 22 February 2021, the publication of the European Research Council’s (ERC) work programme marked the official start of Horizon Europe, the new European Framework Programme for research and innovation for 2021-2027.

With the official start of Horizon Europe, the situation is clear for organisations and researchers based in European Union Member States: they are all fully eligible to apply for funding. But what about applicants from the UK and from those countries, who were “associated” to the previous framework programme Horizon 2020, like Switzerland, Israel or Norway? These “Horizon 2020 Associated Countries” (H2020 ACs) did pay into the common budget of Horizon 2020 and applicants from these countries were fully eligible for H2020 funding as well. It is anticipated that the H2020 ACs and the UK will become associated to Horizon Europe, but the association agreements are still in an early phase and are expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

Horizon 2020 Associated Countries:

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Faroe Islands
  • Georgia
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • North Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
Map of EU Member States and countries associated to Horizon 2020

This raises the question about the current eligibility of applicants from H2020 ACs and the UK. The answer is rather straight-forward: in principle, they are fully eligible to apply in the first Horizon Europe calls.

In fact, during this transition phase, H2020 ACs will be treated as if they were already associated to Horizon Europe. Concerning the UK, the European Commission recently published a Questions & Answers document that confirms the eligibility of UK applicants for the first Horizon Europe calls.

However, in the specific case of successful H2020 AC- or UK-based applicants in the first ERC calls, association agreements must be in place before the signature of the Grant Agreement.

Towards an ever more complex funding landscape?

As specified in an earlier blog post, UK-based applicants will be in principle eligible for the full Horizon Europe programme, with the exception of the EIC fund, which guarantees equity investments to SMEs within the EIC Accelerator scheme.

Aside from Horizon Europe, the UK will not be participating in the following programmes:

Furthermore, the European Commission may decide to restrict the eligibility and access to funding in certain areas of strategic importance to EU Member States and selected non-EU countries in order to safeguard the EU’s interests and security.

Potential funding restrictions would add up to an already complex European research and innovation funding landscape, in which most transnational programmes, such as EUREKA-Eurostars, Interreg and ERA-NETs, are restricted to participating countries, and sometimes regions, that provide funding from their own budget.

Eligibility for participation and funding are one of the first aspects that we consider when we advise researchers and companies on potential funding opportunities. Our Strategic Grant Planning (SGP) helps you navigate through this increasingly complex European funding landscape, by providing individualised funding advice that make sense of all funding rules and requirements.

Contact our expert Marco Cavallaro for more information about the strategic grant planning.

Marco Cavallaro
Research & Innovation Project Manager


European Commission, Q&A on the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe, 25 February 2021.

Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, Questions and answers on Switzerland’s participation in the European Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020 / Horizon Europe), Latest update: 1 February 2021.

Blog series 1/3: Third country partners