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Horizon 2020: Secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens

Programme Type
Funding programme
European (European)
European Union
STRIA Roadmaps
Infrastructure (INF)


Strategic Objectives

This Work Programme will contribute to the implementation of the policy goals of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Security Industrial Policy, the Internal Security Strategy, and the Cyber Security Strategy.

This Work Programme is about protecting our citizens, society and economy as well as our assets, infrastructures and services, our prosperity, political stability and well-being. Any malfunction or disruption, intentional or accidental, can have detrimental impact with high associated economic or societal costs.

The respect of privacy and civil liberties is a guiding principle throughout this Work Programme. All individual projects must meet the requirements of fundamental rights, including the protection of personal data, and comply with EU law in that regard.

The primary aims of the Secure Societies Challenge are:

  • to enhance the resilience of our society against natural and man-made disasters, ranging from the development of new crisis management tools to communication interoperability, and to develop novel solutions for the protection of critical infrastructure;
  • to fight crime and terrorism ranging from new forensic tools to protection against explosives;
  • to improve border security, ranging from improved maritime border protection to supply chain security and to support the EU's external security policies including through conflict prevention and peace building;
  • and to provide enhanced cyber-security, ranging from secure information sharing to new assurance models.
Programme organisation

European citizens, businesses and administrations are increasingly dependent on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for their daily activities. ICTs boost productivity, innovation, commercial exchanges and societal changes. Hence, the actual or perceived lack of security of digital technologies is putting at risk the European economy and society. Moreover, criminal actors have now widely embraced the new technologies to perpetrate crime. Therefore, in the EU and worldwide, cybersecurity has become a political and economic priority. It is therefore natural that cyber security has become part of the Secure Societies Challenge.

We thus see a convergence of traditional security needs and the digital world. Whilst many infrastructures and services are privately owned and operated, protection of public safety and security are the responsibility of the public authorities. Therefore security is an issue that can only be tackled effectively if all stakeholders cooperate.

As a result, this Work Programme addresses both private companies/industry and institutional stakeholders. Calls 1 to 3 of the Work Programme are tightly specified as they respond to a well identified need by the end-users. They are to respond to actual shortcomings in tools and methods to provide security. The expected outcomes will result in a faster transposition of the research results into commercial products or applications responding to well-identified needs by  end-users - be it market operators, law enforcement agencies, border guards, first responders or the citizens. Therefore the latter objective is defined in broader terms, allowing for a wider differentiation of concepts and stakeholders.

Calls 1 to 3 follow a building block structure to contribute to the mission objectives. On the lowest level of the building block structure, capability projects aim at building up and/or strengthening security capabilities. On the medium level of the building block structure, integration projects aim at mission-specific combination of individual capabilities providing a security system and demonstrating its performance. On the top level of the building block structure, demonstration projects will carry out research aimed at large scale integration, validation and demonstration of new security systems. Call 4 makes use of the H2020 instruments to foster innovation, addressing close to market activities. The collaborative projects can either be 'demonstration/pilot' projects or 'first market replication' projects.

Pre-commercial Procurement (PCP) differs from and complements the other building blocks, by involving directly – and supporting financially – end-user entities (typically national or European agencies or authorities).

A novelty in Horizon 2020 is the Open Research Data Pilot which aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects. While certain Work Programme parts and areas have been explicitly identified as participating in the Pilot on Open Research Data, individual actions funded under the other Horizon 2020 parts and areas can choose to participate in the Pilot on a voluntary basis. The use of a Data Management Plan is required for projects participating in the Open Research Data Pilot. Further guidance on the Open Research Data Pilot is made available on the Participant Portal.


Institution Type
Institution Name
European Commission
Type of funding
Public (EU)
Total Budget
EUR 204.92 million
Participating countries
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, United Kingdom


European Commission's Directorate-General (DG) for Research and Innovation.

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