European Court of Auditors findings on Horizon 2020

European Court of Auditors findings on Horizon 2020

By Ingemar Pongratz

The European Court of Auditors has recently published its findings on the EU budget performance and has a chapter dedicated to Horizon 2020 and its implementation.

In chapter 3, European Court of Auditors findings on Horizon 2020 present several interesting findings that no doubt will influence the future calls and topics of Horizon 2020. In particular the European Court of Auditors finds that the links between the Europe 2020 objectives and Horizon 2020 are not sufficiently visible and need to be enhanced in the future. The objective that spending on research and innovation should reach 3% of GDP has not been achieved and is currently at 2%. In addition, the European Court of Auditors point out that the innovation indicators for Horizon 2020 are not established, which means that it is difficult to assess the impact of Horizon 2020.

Finally the European Court of Auditors point out that Horizon 2020 topics are calls are not well aligned with EU political priorities and that there is a need to refocus Horizon 2020 to achieve EU policy objectives.

This is an important finding which no doubt will influence future application. Although the Commission disputes this point, we can expect that Horizon 2020 proposal will need to demonstrate a stronger link to EU political priorities, as was the case in previous Framework Programmes.


The European Court of Auditors comments on the limited synergies between Horizon 2020 funds and ESI funding. They point out that this was a main objective in Europe 2020 policy that has only shown limited success.

Also there are viewpoint that Horizon 2020 project implementation shows little connection to Europe 2020 objectives. The European Court of Auditors notes that less than 50% of the performance indicators of projects actually focus on results and impact. In fact, they claim that there is insufficient focus on project performance. Also they note that innovation is not well defined and that the term is ambiguous and open to interpretation.

Taken together, there are very interesting findings in this report, and it will be very interesting to follow the actions of the European Commission to adapt to the findings. In particular the weak connection between Horizon 2020 to EU policy objectives seems strange.

Ingemar Pongratz is founder of Fenix Scientific AB / Pongratz Consulting. We help enterprises, universities and other organizations to apply for European funding. If you with to contact us and discuss our services please use the Online Contact form or send an email to:

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Stockholm Soder by Ingemar Pongratz