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Call: European partnership for the assessment of risks from chemicals (PARC)

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Programme
Acronym HORIZON-HLTH-ENVHLTH
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 1 - Destination 2: Living and working in a health-promoting environment"

Calls for proposals under this destination are directed towards the Key Strategic Orientation KSO-D ‘Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society’ of Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan 2021-2024. Research and innovation supported under this destination should contribute to the impact area ‘A resilient EU prepared for emerging threats’ and in particular to the following expected impact, set out in the Strategic Plan for the health cluster: ‘living and working environments are health-promoting and sustainable thanks to better understanding of environmental, occupational, social and economic determinants of health’. In addition, research and innovation supported under this destination could also contribute to the following impact areas: ‘Good health and high quality accessible health care’, ‘Climate change mitigation and adaptation’, and Clean and healthy air, water and soil’.

The environment we live and work in is a major determinant of our health and well-being. It has direct or indirect beneficial or adverse impact on our health and well-being. Environmental factors are estimated to account for almost 20% of all deaths in Europe. Opinion surveys have shown that European citizens are concerned about the impact of pollution on their health. The impacting factors on both physical and mental health and well-being are not all identified nor their effects comprehensively understood and accounted for to support evidence-based policy- and decision-making. Furthermore, agreed methodologies to estimate health-related costs of exposure to environmental stressors are lacking.

Therefore, Destination 2 aims at filling knowledge gaps in the understanding of the impacts on our health and well-being of those environmental, occupational and socio-economic risk factors that have the most significant or widespread societal impacts. In this work programme, Destination 2 focuses on indoor and outdoor air pollution, chemicals, non-ionizing radiation (electromagnetic fields), urbanisation, climate and other environmental changes, socio-economic inequalities, and changing working environments. Furthermore, under this work programme a topic is dedicated to the creation of a European partnership for the assessment of risks from chemicals, which should establish the EU as an internationally recognised driver of innovative chemical risk assessment for an optimal protection of human health and the environment. The results will support the EU’s environment and health policies and overarching policy frameworks such as the European Green Deal, the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability, the 8th Environment Action Programme, the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work as well as the WHO European Environment and Health Process (EHP).

Strong collaborations across sectors and with other Horizon Europe clusters dealing with issues such as agriculture, food, environment, climate, mobility, security, urban planning, social inclusion and gender will be needed to ensure that maximal societal benefits are reached. Thus, in view of increasing the impact of EU investments under Horizon Europe, the European Commission welcomes and supports cooperation between EU-funded projects to enable cross-fertilisation and other synergies. This could range from networking to joint activities such as the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. Opportunities for potential synergies exist between projects funded under the same topic but also between other projects funded under another topic, cluster or pillar of Horizon Europe (but also with ongoing projects funded under Horizon 2020). In particular, this could involve projects related to European health research infrastructures (under pillar I of Horizon Europe), the EIC strategic challenges on health and EIT-KIC Health (under pillar III of Horizon Europe), or in areas cutting across the health and other clusters (under pillar II of Horizon Europe).

All topics are open to international collaboration to address global environment and health challenges.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to living and working in a health-promoting environment, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Policy-makers and regulators are aware and well informed about environmental, socio-economic and occupational risk factors as well as health-promoting factors across society;
  • Environmental, occupational, social, economic, fiscal and health policies and practices at the EU, national and regional level are sustainable and based on solid scientific evidence. These include overarching policy frameworks such as the European Green Deal, the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability, the 8th Environment Action Programme, the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work and the European Environment and Health Process led by the World Health Organization;
  • The upstream determinants of disease - related to choices in energy generation, agricultural practices, industrial production, land use planning, built environment and construction - are known, understood and reduced;
  • The health threats and burden resulting from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination is reduced, so that the related number of deaths and illnesses is substantially reduced by 2030;
  • Living and working environments in European cities and regions are healthier, more inclusive, safer, resilient and sustainable;
  • The adaptive capacity and resilience of populations and health systems in the EU to climate and environmental change-related health risks is strengthened;
  • Citizens’ health and well-being is protected and promoted, and premature deaths, diseases and inequalities related to environmental pollution and degradation are prevented;
  • Citizens understand better complex environment and health issues, and effective measures to address them and support related policies and regulations.
Link Link to Programme
Call
European partnership for the assessment of risks from chemicals (PARC)
Description of call
"European partnership for the assessment of risks from chemicals (PARC)"

Expected Outcome

This topic aims at supporting activities that are enabling or contributing to one or several expected impacts of destination 2 ‘Living and working in a health-promoting environment’. To that end, the proposal under this topic should aim for delivering results that are directed, tailored towards and contributing to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • The EU is reinforced as an internationally recognised driver of innovation in chemicals risk assessment and thereby substantially contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals related to chemicals;
  • EU and national chemicals risk assessment and management authorities rely on a sustainable Europe-wide research and innovation platform for chemicals risk assessment, as identified in the Council Conclusions of June 2019 ‘Towards a Sustainable Chemicals Policy Strategy of the Union’ and in the ‘Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability’, to provide joint new knowledge and innovate risk assessment processes;
  • EU and national chemical risk assessment agencies and the scientific community enhance their collaboration and move towards ‘one substance – one assessment’ with shared evidence, tools and methodologies cutting across sectors;
  • The Common European Green Deal Data Space is empowered, by providing it with reliable, relevant, curated and FAIR data on chemicals in line with the European Strategy for Data;
  • Synergies are established with relevant activities derived from other European Green Deal policy areas, such as the ‘Farm to Fork strategy’, the ‘Biodiversity Strategy for 2030’, the ‘8th Environment Action Programme’ and the ‘Zero Pollution Action Plan for Air, Water and Soil’, to understand and address their needs for research and innovation in chemicals risk assessment and ensure a better protection of the environment and human health from hazardous chemical exposures;
  • Public authorities and industry engaged in developing a circular economy, including better waste management, as defined in the EU’s ‘Industrial Strategy’ and the ‘New Circular Economy Action Plan’, are supported with innovation in chemicals risk assessment.
  • Workers are better protected from chemical risks as set out in the ‘EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020’ through better insight into exposures and health impacts and improved safety measures.

Scope:

Chemicals risk assessors and managers are faced with data and knowledge gaps and lack of tools and methods, to speed up and prioritise risk assessments and capture risks from existing and emerging substances across regulatory domains. The lack of available or accessible information increases the risk of ‘regrettable’ substitutions and slows down the design of safer chemicals. A diverse landscape of regulatory frameworks and actors carrying out risk assessment of chemicals for their specific purpose has resulted in a fragmented approach. Risks to human and environmental health are still in certain cases considered separately, while in most cases they are inherently interrelated.

To enable risk assessors and risk managers to respond to current and future challenges, the Partnership should stimulate research and innovation in chemicals risk assessment by developing a collaborative network with public research entities. A common research and innovation programme should be established by national and EU risk assessors and risk managers in consultation with relevant stakeholders (academia, industry, associations and others).

Activities of the Partnership should be complementary and subsidiary to obligations under existing regulatory frameworks, and should coordinate with these as relevant. The Partnership should become a reference centre for research questions related to chemicals risk assessment, including those emerging from other Horizon Europe partnerships or missions. The Partnership is expected to establish relevant collaborations with other Horizon Europe partnerships and missions as set out in the working document on ‘Coherence and Synergies of candidate European partnerships under Horizon Europe’ as well as to explore collaborations with other relevant activities at EU and international level. The Partnership should align with EU-wide initiatives on open access and FAIR data.

The Partnership’s governance structure should engage upfront risk managers and risk assessors to coordinate, steer and frame the research and innovation activities, facilitate the use and uptake of the results in a regulatory context and contribute to a science based communication of the risk of chemicals. The Partnership’s governance and operational structures should also foster a dialogue on sustainability, beyond funding from EU research and innovation framework programmes, with political decision-makers and risk assessors.

Main blocks of activity:

  1. Set-up and operate an EU-wide cross-disciplinary network to identify and agree on research and innovation needs and support research uptake into regulatory chemical risk assessment.

A dialogue and priority-setting process should be established, bringing together European regulatory entities and risk assessment agencies to develop a strategic research and innovation agenda for chemicals risk assessment in collaboration with the scientific community. This process should also facilitate access and uptake of new scientific knowledge that can contribute to regulatory science by policy-makers and risk assessors.

Relevant synergies should be fostered with other initiatives at national, EU or international level and targeted communication and dissemination should be implemented to ensure openness and transparency of this Partnership towards all concerned stakeholders. The Partnership should build on and extend the concept of National Hubs developed under the European Joint Programme on Human Biomonitoring, HBM4EU. Targeted citizen actions should be envisaged to increase their understanding of risks related to exposure to chemicals and reinforce their trust in risk assessment and risk management processes.

  1. Carry out joint EU research and innovation activities on identified priorities to support the current regulatory risk assessment processes and respond to emerging challenges.

The Partnership should drive innovation in environmental and human exposure assessment. . New tools and methods for environmental and human exposure monitoring, including in occupational settings, and to gather data on lifestyle and consumption behaviour, should be developed, validated and their harmonised use promoted. Biomarkers of effects in environment and in human should be developed as a proxy of environmental and health outcomes. Collaborations with existing programmes should be fostered; however, when required and relevant, the partnership can carry out monitoring and exposure assessment activities. This could entail monitoring of environmental media and human exposure to chemicals from various sources and exposure routes. For human biomonitoring, the Partnership should build on the results of HBM4EU and further exploit these as well as perform new studies for prioritised chemicals and regulatory questions. Moreover, human biomonitoring activities should be integrated in the wider exposure assessment and risk assessment contexts.

Toxicological or eco-toxicological studies to generate new data for chemical substances and mixtures relevant to public health (mechanistic, in silico, in vitro or in vivo), beyond the data required from industry under REACH or by other regulations, should be designed and performed, taking into account the Reduce-Refine-Replace (3Rs) principle and any regulatory requirements for their relevance. Novel methods for toxicological hazard assessment aligned with identified needs should be developed, and existing methods improved, including methods that can reliably screen (groups of) substances allowing to select the substances for which a full safety assessment is required. New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) should be integrated with classical experimental designs to improve hazard characterization and their regulatory acceptance promoted through validation or applicability studies.

The performance of current methodologies employed in regulatory risk assessment should be assessed to identify methodological knowledge gaps and R&I needs. Validation and standardisation of results and methods of the Partnership or from collaborating projects should be pursued, e.g. development of OECD Test Guidelines, to encourage their use in regulatory risk assessment. Integrated Approaches to Testing and Assessment (IATA), integrative exposure and exposure reconstruction models and practical approaches for regulatory risk assessment of single, aggregated or combined exposure should be developed and their regulatory uptake fostered. Causal associations between (combined) exposures to chemicals and health outcomes should be investigated.

  1. Strengthen existing capacities and build EU-wide, transdisciplinary research and innovation platforms to support chemical risk assessment

A data policy in line with FAIR data principles, taking into account General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) related challenges, should be developed and implemented in the Partnership for data management, harmonisation, interoperability and exchange. Building on accepted data formats and existing data platforms, solutions to collect, store, manage and permit access to new data generated by R&I activities in the partnership should be proposed. Access and linkage to existing data collections should be facilitated. Innovative methods for data analysis should be pursued, including uncertainty analysis, data mining, and machine learning.

Innovative approaches in chemical risk assessment should be investigated and, if validated, promoted including at least the following: 1) supporting the European Commission’s work on defining the Safe-and-Sustainable-by-Design concept and implementation criteria and proposing a toolbox to support the application of these criteria; 2) investigating how to further support the initial pilot study on an EU Early Warning System launched by the European Commission in 2019; and 3) making models and modelling approaches accessible and compliant with FAIR principles via an open source repository.

The Partnership should, in cooperation with appropriate EU and National reference laboratory networks, identify, and, when needed, enhance existing networks and develop new networks. These networks should aim at standardising methods, making available Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) schemes and promoting the uptake of new methods and tools through training and peer-to-peer learning. In addition, specific training should be undertaken for different groups of stakeholders, including own partners, to ensure a wide use of data, methods, tools and models promoted by the Partnership.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
United States of America
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
United States of America
Eligible applicants Research Institution, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Public Services, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined)
Applicant details The Partnership is open to all EU Member States as well as countries associated to Horizon Europe and will remain open to those wanting to join during the Partnership’s lifetime.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Beneficiaries should preferably be:

  • National institutions in charge of chemical risk assessment and carrying out related research and innovation activities.
  • Exceptionally, if the national risk assessors prefer not to participate as beneficiaries and manage a network of affiliated entities, other solutions can be envisaged but must be duly justified and, when to conditions for participating as affiliated entities exists, the national risk assessor may participate under such status.

To encourage national coordination, participation as beneficiary should be limited to two entities per country; the use of affiliated entities is thus strongly encouraged, when the conditions for participating as affiliated entity exist.

Affiliated entities are defined under the Horizon Europe Model Grant Agreement and, in this specific topic, should be:

  • Academia and research organisations that are part of the national networks on research for chemicals risk assessment and have established links to the risk-assessing institutions.
  • National risk assessors or government agencies in the exceptional case they will not be beneficiaries as mentioned above.

Depending on their individual legal and operational frameworks and in agreement with the relevant services of the European Commission (partner DGs), EU Agencies involved in chemicals risk assessment and/or producing knowledge on chemicals’ safety may also join the Partnership, e.g. as beneficiaries.

Collaboration with the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) should be considered to facilitate the sharing of chemical monitoring data in IPCHEM, and in other areas of mutual interest, such as (bio)monitoring, novel approaches for risk assessment including non-animal approaches, safe and sustainable design of chemicals, training and capacity building.

The expected duration of the partnership is seven years.

Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit of Part B: 70 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 200.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 200.00 million.
Typ of ActionProgramme Co-fund Action
Funding rateFunding rate will be 50%. This is justified by the pooling of proposers' in-kind contributions and in-house activities.
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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