On the 24th November 2023, at the Canada-EU Summit European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the conclusion of negotiations for Canada’s association to Pillar II of Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. It marks a significant milestone to foster mutual collaboration in research and innovation.

Ursula von der Leyen, EC President, said: “We warmly welcome Canada into the Horizon Europe family, and we eagerly anticipate the innovative breakthroughs and transformative discoveries that will emerge from our joint projects. Together, we will chart new frontiers, push the boundaries of knowledge, and build a more resilient and prosperous world for generations to come.”

The signing of the Association Agreement is expected to take place in 2024, pending the completion of all necessary validations on both sides. Once signed, researchers and organisations in Canada will be able to receive funding under Pillar II of the Horizon Europe. Pillar II is the largest collaborative part of the programme that is primarily focused on shared global challenges: climate, energy, digital economy and health, with a budget of €53.5 billion.

Association to Horizon Europe is the deepest form of collaboration offered by the EU in research and innovation. It will enable researchers and organisations in Canada to collaborate in calls under Pillar II of the programme on equal terms with entities from the EU Member States. They will also have access to networks of researchers in the EU and 18 other countries associated to Horizon Europe as of 2024.

Formal relations between the EU and Canada in the field of research and innovation date back to 1996, with the signature of the Agreement on cooperation in scientific and technological cooperation. That Agreement has provided the general framework for cooperation and acted as a forum for regular discussions about research priorities and areas of common interest.

Horizon Europe is the biggest EU’s research and innovation programme ever with an EU budget of €95.5 billion for the period 2021-2027, complemented by the financial contributions from associated countries. It is open to the world, which means that participants from all over the world can participate in nearly all calls. Entities from associated countries have additional opportunities in collaborative projects and are treated on par with the entities of EU Member States regarding the access to funds.