ERA Portal Austria policy brief SSH in Horizon Europe


This ERA Portal Austria policy brief on “The next seven years of research on Europe’s Society” takes a close look at the role of social sciences and humanities (SSH) in the new Research Framework Programme Horizon Europe. The author, Matthias Reiter-Pázmándy, finds that from the very beginning of conceptualising Horizon Europe, the research community as well as stakeholder organisations and policy makers showed great interest in giving the social sciences and humanities a stronger role than they had had in Horizon 2020. As a result, the Horizon Europe regulation, he points out, clearly states that “Social sciences and humanities (SSH) shall play an important role across all clusters” (Article 4). Several other articles of the regulation specify the SSH contributions in detail. Reiter-Pázmándy also sees the role of SSH strengthened by the new structure of the European Commission’s DG Research & Innovation that was implemented in spring 2019.

Horizon Europe offers three “tiers” for SSH research: Cluster 2 for top-down driven, applied, solution-oriented research; the ERC for bottom-up, blue-sky, curiosity-driven research; and the integration of SSH expertise, through a transversal approach, to provide societal aspects in technological and natural science projects. A number of open questions regarding SSH remain, according to the author, such as e.g. regarding the role of SSH in European Partnerships, or in the EIC. Nonetheless, Reiter-Pázmándy remains convinced that “the contributions from the social sciences and humanities across all parts of Horizon Europe will provide expertise on human behaviour, society and its processes, institutions and their functioning for solving the big challenges of our time”.