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Horizon Europe is the main Research and Innovation Funding Programme of the European Commission.

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Horizon 2020 is the previous Funding Programme. There are no longer calls, but projects can run until 2024.

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Security appraisal procedure

The security appraisal procedure is mandatory for all project proposals under Horizon Europe and sets out the steps to determine if project proposals contain sensitive information and/or deliverables.

Programmes Security   Digital, Industry & Space  

Published on | 11 months ago

Last updated on | 1 month ago

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Image of Ann Van Hauwaert
Ann Van Hauwaert


As Horizon Europe deals with new technologies and innovations, the European Commission wants to make sure that these are not misused for the wrong purposes (e.g. crime) or that sensitive information falls in the wrong hands.

To this purpose they have set-up security procedures for projects submitted under their R&I framework programme. In Horizon 2020 this was called the security scrutiny procedure but in Horizon Europe it has been expanded and renamed to ‘security appraisal procedure’.

In contrast to Horizon 2020 the procedure is now mandatory for all project proposals though it has to be said that for most proposals this work will be limited to answering the questions of the self-assessment questionnaire.

Overview of the procedure

There are 3 steps of the procedure which in turn are also divided into phases.

  1. Security self-assessment by the applicant

All project proposals must fill in the security issues table as a self-assessment which contains some straight-forward questions. This is what most proposals will have to do. You can find this table in the standard application document.

For those calls that are submitted under security sensitive topics, a security section (application form part B security) must also be filled in. At the moment this is the case for the Space calls (cluster 4) and the civil security calls managed by DG Home (cluster 3). These files will immediately go to the security scrutiny phase and skip the first 2 phases of step 2.

  1. Security review by the granting authority, the Commission and national security expert

Only proposals above the threshold will undergo a security review. The first phase of this step is the pre-screening carried out by the granting authority (in casu competent DG or agency). Afterwards all these files are sent to DG Home which will take care of the screening phase. if in the screening phase it seems that more analysis is needed then the file will be transferred to the security screening group

The final phase is thus the security scrutiny in which a group of nationally appointed security experts will review the proposals and give their verdict. This might be no security concern, classification (limit the access) of certain deliverables or information, appointing a project security officer, install a security advisory board, organize security trainings for the staff involved in the project etc. The most strict judgment can be the non-funding of the proposal but this is extremely rare.

  1. Security checks and audits by the commission or the relevant funding body

Once the project is ongoing the staff of the European Commission can also perform checks and maybe an audit on the security requirements regarding the projects.

More information

The timeline can be long to get the full security clearance so it might not be concluded by the time the invitation letter is sent. However at the moment of the grant signature this procedure must be finalized.

If you want more information regarding this topic you can watch this webinar of the European Commission on Youtube and you can also check their guide on how to handle security sensitive projects and the classification of information in Horizon Europe. In case you have some specific questions you can send them to HOME-SECURITY-APPRAISAL@EC.EUROPA.EU


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