EU - Global health R&D

The EUI is the third-largest public funder for global health R&D  

In 2018, the European Union institutions (including the EU and European Investment Bank, EIB) were the third-largest public funder (5% of total) of global health research and development (R&D) focused on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs, referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile). According to G-Finder data, the EUI contributed US$134 million to this sector in 2018, marking a slight increase from 2017 (US$125 million) and following a drop in 2016 (US$85 million).  

In 2018, 63% of the EUI’s financing for global health R&D could not be allocated to a single disease, largely owing to the fact that US$80 million was given to the EUI’s main funding instrument in this area, the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), which does not break down its funding by disease. The next largest areas of funding were HIV/AIDS (11%), tuberculosis (9%), and malaria (9%).  

The main recipients of EUI’s global health R&D funding in 2018 were non-product development partnership intermediary organizations (60% of funding), followed by academic and research institutions (21%), national government agencies (6%), industry (6%), and product development partnerships (PDPs; 6%). 

In June 2019, the European Commission (EC) published its proposal for funding research and innovation programs through Horizon Europe — the EU’s proposed research framework program for 2021-2027 — which will succeed the current Horizon 2020. The European Council and European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on the program’s legislation, which includes a ‘health cluster’ as one of its six clusters (areas for possible missions and institutionalized European partnerships) under Pillar II 'Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness' (one of the three pillars or divisions of Horizon Europe). The health cluster includes an area of intervention titled ‘Infectious diseases including PRNDs’ that will address trans-border aspects of infectious diseases including AIDS, tuberculosis, and tropical diseases, including malaria, in low- and middle-income countries. Additionally, Horizon Europe includes a health-related mission focused on cancer, as well as an EU-Africa Global Health Partnership aimed at tackling infectious diseases as one of the proposed institutionalized partnerships.  

In 2020, the EC pledged €1.4 billion (US$1.65 billion) to the Coronavirus Global Response initiative, including around €1.0 billion (US$1.2 billion) for research to develop vaccines, treatments, diagnostics, and other medical products for tackling COVID-19. Within this, €48 million (US$57 million) was channelled via the ‘Horizon 2020’ research program for 18 projects involving 140 research teams. In addition, Horizon 2020’s Innovative Medicines Initiative launched an emergency call of up to €72 million (US$85 million), to be matched by the pharmaceutical industry. Another €100 million (US$118 million) was channeled to the Center for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The EC also awarded €128 million (US$151 million) to 23 new research projects addressing the COVID-19 crisis and its effects. The funding will support research to strengthen and adapt industrial capacity for manufacturing prevention, diagnostics, and treatment equipment, as well as research to improve mitigation measures. 

Funding to global health R&D is expected to increase in the next EU long-term budget.  In November 2020, under the 2021-20127 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) deal struck by European Parliament (EP) negotiators and the German presidency of the Council of the EU, €84.9 billion (US$100.2 billion) was proposed for research and innovation programs under ‘Horizon Europe’ (set to succeed the current ‘Horizon 2020’). The November 2020 deal included an additional €4.0 billion (US$4.7 billion) increase for the Horizon Europe research program’s health, climate, and digital research, compared to the previous deal struck by the European Council in July 2020. The final budget for spending through Horizon Europe will be negotiated after the overall MFF figures have been adopted, which will happen following adoption by the Council. Of the total funding, €5.0 billion (US$5.9 billion) will be resourced from the proposed new recovery instrument, Next Generation EU. 


For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

The EC’s DG for Research and Innovation has three main programs for global health R&D  

The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) defines and implements the European research and innovation policy, which includes global health R&D. The EUI fund research and innovation through so-called ‘Framework Programmes’ that span the length of the current MFF. Horizon 2020, the EU’s eighth ‘Framework Programme for Research and Innovation’, was launched in 2014. It has a total budget of €79.3 billion (US$93.6 billion) for the period of 2014-2020 and focuses on three key areas: 1) societal challenges (39% of the total budget), 2) excellent science (32%), and 3) industrial leadership (22%). Societal challenges include “health, demographic change and wellbeing”, which represent 10% of Horizon 2020’s total funding.