HORIZON EUROPE┋Supporting national, regional and local authorities across Europe to prepare for the transition towards climate neutrality within cities



Expected Outcome


Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Increased preparedness and capacity of national, regional and local authorities in EU Member States and countries associated to Horizon Europe to engage in cities’ transition towards climate neutrality. 
  • Identification of country-specific challenges and barriers for cities to achieve climate neutrality related to regulatory framework, funding and financing, and governance structures and promotion of best-practices through transnational exchanges and sharing of experience.
  • Enhanced synergies with R&I national/international communities, relevant initiatives, and partnerships such as the ‘Driving Urban Transitions to a Sustainable Future’ Horizon Europe Partnership and the Mission Platform for the implementation of the Climate-neutral and smart cities Mission.


Cities are increasingly taking a leading role in the green and digital transition. 100 EU cities and 12 cities from countries associated to Horizon Europe have raised their ambition by joining the Climate-neutral and smart cities Mission and actively pursuing their transition towards climate-neutrality by 2030. Many more cities across Europe expressed their willingness to engage in climate neutrality pathways and actively engage with the Mission. National and regional authorities have a key role to play to support cities ambition and facilitate the process.

The objective of this action is to strengthen existing national networks in Member States and Associated Countries as well as encourage and support the creation of such structures in countries where this has not yet taken place and empower them to act as clearly identifiable national contacts to support cities in pursuing their climate neutrality ambition and related targets.

Such networks by combining relevant multi-level (e.g. national, regional and local) institutional competence and multi-stakeholders capacities, expertise, and responsibilities, would ensure coherence across city-relevant policy, financing and regulatory frameworks and promote higher efficacy and impact of undertaken action plans.

The project should build upon, broaden and further upscale the activities, tools, methods, and approaches developed under the CapaCITIES project whilst expanding its geographical coverage to cover preferably the entire EU, enhancing institutional competence by involving all relevant actors and working in close collaboration and complementarity with the Cities Mission Platform.

Proposals should:

  • Support the set-up of dedicated national networks in countries where these have not yet been established, preferably covering the entire EU, to help cities in their transition towards climate neutrality and promote collaboration, capacity building and coherence of policy, regulation and financing frameworks across national, regional and local levels.
  • Promote transnational learning, exchanges and training to foster replication and upscaling of best practices across Europe for effective national support mechanisms to support cities in their transitions to climate neutrality.
  • Strengthen the capacity and competence of existing national networks by engaging all relevant institutional players with responsibilities in city-relevant affairs and facilitate exchanges across the national, regional and local levels for policy coherence, better coordination and enhanced impact of city relevant policies, programmes, initiatives, regulatory frameworks and funding.
  • Mobilize and support a large number of urban-relevant authorities, across different ministries and implementing agencies, in engaging together with cities in climate-neutrality transitions in line with the overarching objectives of the European Green Deal, and relevant EU policies;
  • Support capacity building of local authorities and multi-level governance structures for transitions to climate neutrality through dedicated activities such as e.g. trainings, webinars, capacity building, country visits and bi-or multi-lateral exchanges as well as peer-exchange.
  • Identify specific challenges, best-practices and opportunities to make policy and regulatory frameworks, funding and financing and multi-level governance structures best suited for climate neutrality in cities.

To avoid unnecessary proliferation of national networks with overlapping competences, duplication of efforts and uncertainty by cities as to which relevant “interlocutors” to approach, applicants must take into account and build upon existing, planned or ongoing relevant national, regional or local activities and structures aiming to foster climate-neutrality in cities.

Topic updates

Apr 18, 2024 5:02:25 PM


The opening of the call, indicated in the work programme with 18 April 2024, is changed to 16 May 2024.

Topic mission

Mission: Climate neutral and smart cities (2023/24)

The Work Programme 2023 of the Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission, in line with the provisions under the Implementation Plan of the Cities Mission, fosters the implementation of the Mission through actions that will continue to provide a strong and direct support to cities that will commit to climate neutrality and enable them to roll out their climate action plans and achieve climate neutrality by 2030, in synergy with significant progress towards zero pollution. In turn, the cities benefitting from these actions will act as experimentation and innovation hubs for other cities to become climate-neutral by 2050.

Climate neutrality for cities is associated with important co-benefits and urban qualities such as reduced air and noise pollution, improved health and well-being, reduced urban environmental footprints, enhanced urban greening, reduced soil sealing and improved water management. It is also associated with policy coherence across sectors and with participatory and inclusive decision-making. Therefore, in addition to a significant contribution to the objective of the European Green Deal to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050, the actions funded will also contribute to the UN Agenda 2030, the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan, the Fit for 55 strategy, the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate changethe EU Industrial Strategy, the EU Bioeconomy Strategy and the New European Bauhaus initiative. In the process, they will support cities in their twin green and digital transformation.

Topics under the 2023 calls will continue to work on developing and scaling up R&I activities and solutions while fostering synergies and joint actions with Horizon Europe Partnerships as well as other EU Missions. The envisaged actions will aim at:

  • accelerating the transition of European cities to climate neutrality by exploiting the potential of electric, automated and connected as well as shared people mobility and freight transport through a joint action with the Horizon Europe Partnerships dedicated to Zero-emission Road Transport (2Zero) and Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM);
  • engage cities in decisive climate mitigation and adaptation efforts to reduce emissions, based on innovative use of urban greening and nature-based solutions through a joint action with the Adaptation to Climate Change Mission;
  • develop and test a digital twin of a Positive clean Energy District (PED) covering modelling, management, citizen interaction, self-optimization, decision support/scenario analysis.

The operational capacity of the Mission Platform established through a Framework Partnership Agreement (HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02-03) will be strengthened in order to: 1) ensure support to all the cities selected through the Call for Expression of Interest to be part of the Mission[[https://ec.europa.eu/info/files/eu-cities-mission-meet-cities_en]], as well as to 2) provide support and basic services to all those cities that participated in the call and showed ambition and commitment to achieve climate-neutrality by 2030 but were not included in the final list of selected cities as well as cities responding to the second objective of the Mission.

Support for financial advisory services to be provided to help cities develop and eventually implement their investment strategy for becoming climate-neutral will also be addressed under this Work Programme.

Proposals should demonstrate, as appropriate to their scope and size, how they internalise the principles of the Cities Mission, notably: (1) the contribution of the action to an overarching strategy aiming at climate neutrality for cities, (2) the place of the action within a holistic and cross-sectoral approach to climate neutrality, and (3) diversity in terms of geographical location and size of cities.

Applicants are encouraged to show how their proposals take into account and build upon existing programmes and/or the results of previous R&I projects. While addressing the particular challenge of a topic and ensuring the doing no harm principles, proposals should also contribute as relevant to the following cross-cutting priorities: (1) zero pollution, (2) sustainable digitisation and green ICT, (3) interoperability and shared standards, and (4) affordability, social inclusiveness and accessibility.

Strong synergies contributing to the implementation of the objectives of the Cities Mission is expected also from other relevant Horizon Europe partnerships such as e.g. the European Partnership for People-centric Sustainable Built Environment (Built4People) and on Driving Urban Transitions to a Sustainable Future (DUT). Topics under the Cities Mission Work Programme are also relevant for the Cancer Mission, in particular when addressing co-benefits generated by achieving climate-neutrality such as reduced pollution, improved health and wellbeing, increased active mobility contributing then to cancer prevention. Similarly, actions funded under the Cancer Mission focusing on behavioural change can contribute to the objectives of the Cities Mission especially when targeting actions at urban level.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), with their experience in delivering holistic, transformative, citizen-driven and systemic solutions and innovations to specific global challenges, will also contribute to the Cities Mission in particular EIT Climate-KIC, EIT InnoEnergy and EIT Urban Mobility.

In line with the General Conditions set out in the General Annexes to the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023-2024 concerning eligibility under Innovation Actions, legal entities established in China are not eligible to participate in Horizon Europe Innovation Actions in any capacity.

Proposals should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the main objectives of the Cities Mission, and more specifically to the following impacts:

  • Enhanced innovation capacity of local/regional administrations and accelerated uptake of shared, smart and sustainable zero emission solutions.
  • Increased use of transferrable solutions for sustainable mobility of people and goods exploiting the combined potential of zero-emission mobility systems, automation and connectivity.
  • Increased deployment of solutions involving in particular urban greening, renaturing, reducing soil sealing, green/blue infrastructures, nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches tackling both climate mitigation and adaptation aspects.
  • Development and testing a digital twin of a Positive clean Energy District and improved knowledge on the necessary (replicable) elements and processes needed to make first a district and subsequently a whole city climate-neutral.
  • Increased capacity among European cities, with particular attention to those selected under the Cities Mission, to design and roll out their Climate City Contracts, including related investment plans and to achieve climate-neutrality by 2030.

General conditions

1. Admissibility conditions: described in Annex A and Annex E of the Horizon Europe Work Programme General Annexes

Proposal page limits and layout: described in Part B of the Application Form available in the Submission System

2. Eligible countries: described in Annex B of the Work Programme General Annexes

A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon Europe projects. See the information in the Horizon Europe Programme Guide.

3. Other eligibility conditions: described in Annex B of the Work Programme General Annexes

4. Financial and operational capacity and exclusion: described in Annex C of the Work Programme General Annexes

5. Evaluation and award:

  • Award criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex D of the Work Programme General Annexes

  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in Annex F of the Work Programme General Annexes and the Online Manual

  • Indicative timeline for evaluation and grant agreement: described in Annex F of the Work Programme General Annexes

6. Legal and financial set-up of the grants: described in Annex G of the Work Programme General Annexes

Grants awarded under this topic will be linked to the following action(s):


Collaboration with the Cities Mission Platform[[Conceived through the Horizon 2020 project NetZeroCities - Accelerating cities' transition to net zero emissions by 2030, Grant Agreement n. 101036519, and scaled up through the topic HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02-03: Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) for the Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission Platform]] is essential and projects must ensure that appropriate provisions for activities and resources aimed at enforcing this collaboration are included in the work plan of the proposal. The collaboration with the Mission Platform must be formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding to be concluded as soon as possible after the project starting date.

Specific conditions

7. Specific conditions: described in the specific topic of the Work Programme


Call documents:

Standard application form — call-specific application form is available in the Submission System

Standard application form (HE CSA)

Standard evaluation form — will be used with the necessary adaptations

Standard evaluation form (HE CSA)


HE General MGA v1.0

HE Unit MGA v1.0

Call-specific instructions

Information on financial support to third parties (HE)

Additional documents:

HE Main Work Programme 2023–2024 – 1. General Introduction

HE Main Work Programme 2023–2024 – 12. Missions

HE Main Work Programme 2023–2024 – 13. General Annexes

HE Programme Guide

HE Framework Programme and Rules for Participation Regulation 2021/695

HE Specific Programme Decision 2021/764

EU Financial Regulation

Rules for Legal Entity Validation, LEAR Appointment and Financial Capacity Assessment

EU Grants AGA — Annotated Model Grant Agreement

Funding & Tenders Portal Online Manual

Funding & Tenders Portal Terms and Conditions

Funding & Tenders Portal Privacy Statement

Date de candidature
Humanités : Anthropologie & Ethnologie, Architecture et urbanisme
Sciences sociales : Economie, Géographie, Gestion et administration publique, Sciences environnementales, Sociologie
Sciences participatives
Autres : Physique, mathématiques et ingénierie