The European Commission has published the first strategic plan (2021-2024) of the Horizon Europe research and innovation program. This is an important document because it determines the content of the calls of proposals that will foreseeably open during the next month of April.
Aspects related to responsible research and innovation have been included in the strategic plan horizontally. This new program will pay special attention to the gender equality. This aspect is included in cluster 2 of Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society; and reinforced horizontally. It seems that Gender equality plans will also gradually become part of the eligibility criteria for public bodies, research organizations and higher education establishments applying to the program. In any case integration of the gender dimension will be a requirement by default in research and innovation content across the whole program
The strategic plan emphasizes citizen engagement for the broad acceptance and support of science and research. Horizon Europe will investigate, apply, and evaluate ways of communicating with the civil society about research and innovation. The plan has engaged a broad range of stakeholders for its design. There was an open consultation that closed last September 2020. The European Commission gathered more than 8000 contributions have been submitted in various stages of the strategic planning process.
The ethical aspects and the integrity of science are considered horizontally. All projects are obliged to comply with the code of conduct and respect the law, both in the EU and when carrying out projects with third countries. Special attention will be paid to ethical aspects in relation to the preservation of the environment, the green deal and artificial intelligence.
Horizon Europe will pay particular attention to open science and research data sharing. The idea is that projects are as open as possible, and that they share data as soon as possible. This topic is so important that a specific partner for open science European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) has been created, which will be fully available to researchers from 2025.
In accordance with the strategic plan, the Horizon Europe program has horizontally integrated the principles of responsible research and innovation. In previous framework programs these aspects were not included so explicitly; except in the calls of Science with and for Society of the H2020 program that have financed the TetRRIs project. We will wait for the first calls that may give a concrete idea how these principles will be applied.