Associated Countries

The initial list of countries associated to Horizon Europe is expected to be published in the coming months with some preliminary information already available.

What are the Associated Countries and which groups of countries can associate to Horizon Europe?

Associated Countries are non-EU countries that pay into the Horizon Europe budget to be treated equally to the EU Member States for the purposes of the programme. Legal entities from Associated Countries can participate in Horizon Europe under the same conditions as their EU counterparts (with a small number of duly justified exceptions) and count towards the minimum numbers for eligible consortia.

The association policy in Horizon Europe is more complicated than the one in Horizon 2020. In addition to the same groups of countries that could associate to its predecessor, Horizon Europe's legal basis allows any country or territory in the world to become associated if certain conditions are met. Furthermore, the association policy allows for partial association (to specific pillars of Horizon Europe) in order to protect the Union's competitiveness. It also mentions reciprocal access to the third country's programmes and establishes an automatic correction mechanism for any significant imbalance compared to the amount the associated country receives through association.

There are four main groups of countries that are covered by the association policy:

  • A. European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members, which are members of the European Economic Area (e.g. Iceland and Norway);
  • B. Acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates for EU membership (e.g. the Western Balkan countries and Turkey);
  • C. Countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy (e.g. Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Tunisia and Morocco, etc.); and
  • D. Other third countries and territories that fulfil specific criteria (e.g. UK, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, etc.).

Which countries will be associated to Horizon Europe?

While the initial list of associated countries is yet to be published, they will probably include all countries associated to Horizon 2020, plus the UK, Kosovo and Morocco. The UK, Norway and Iceland are set to become the first countries associated to Horizon Europe via dedicated protocols of their respective trade and cooperation agreements.

The Commission is planning to start official negotiations on association with those countries associated to Horizon 2020 first before moving to those that would be allowed to associate under the so-called 'category D' of the association policy (third countries and territories that fulfil specific criteria) and thus be considered newcomers to the programme (Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand are interested in exploring the concept of association to Horizon Europe).These include negotiations on the limited scope of association (on a Pillar basis) and reciprocal access to relevant research and innovation programmes of these third countries.