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Regional Dimension of Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking and Synergies with European Structural Investment Funds

The Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (CS2JU) is called by its founding Council Regulation no. 558/2014 of 6 May 2014 to develop closer interaction with European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) and to underpin smart specialisation efforts in the field of activities covered by Clean Sky 2.

Map MoU
Piorities in RIS3
Pilot projects



The Europe 2020 strategy towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth will make significant progress by building on the synergies between the cohesion policy – European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) – and the excellence objectives within Horizon 2020. The fostering of synergies between these two policy instruments aims to maximise the quantity and quality of investments, thus ensuring a higher impact of the funds. The ESIF will invest approximately €100 billion in innovation and research from the period 2014-2020.

The increase of the innovation and competitiveness-related budgets under EU cohesion policy over the past decade is of the utmost importance to ensure optimal synergies between the funds as a result of the increasing competitive pressure from global markets and to maximise the impact and efficiency of public funding. The European Parliament and the Council has made it clear that this approach is no longer a "nice to have" but a "need to implement".

In this context, Article 20 of the Horizon 2020 Regulation and Article 37 of the Horizon 2020 rules for participation encourage synergies between Horizon 2020 and other European Union funds, such as ESIF. To achieve this, it is crucial to align strategies and implementation modalities and complement existing and future roadmaps.

Synergies need preparation and efforts at all stages of programming and implementation and by all actors involved. To achieve synergies all levels and stages of the programming and implementation need to be addressed i.e.,

  • Firstly, starting at the strategic level with awareness and understanding of the opportunities offered by different EU programmes, the development of smart specialisation strategies and EU level strategies and plans.
  • Secondly, the development of work programmes and work plans in the framework of Horizon 2020, and the preparation of the Partnership Agreements and of ESIF programmes and frameworks (including the choice of priorities, specific objectives, types of actions and beneficiaries).
  • Finally, the set-up of the implementation mechanisms, project selection processes, information services, guidance to potential beneficiaries, monitoring of the implementation, etc.

A high number of Regions and Member States have indicated aeronautics, aviation, aerospace and correlated areas among their Research & Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3) priorities, which creates an opportunity for fostering synergies with the EU’s largest ever aeronautics programme, the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking, under H2020, which is developing a set of bilateral cooperations on synergies with an increasing number of aeronautics-focused European Regions.

Synergies between ESIF and Clean Sky 2 could maximise the impact and specific added value of Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) investments, such as the capacity to effectively support aeronautics capacity building and the exploitation of research results in raising the overall socio-economic impact of the European aeronautics sector.

Thus, Clean Sky 2 encourages synergies with ESIF by allowing complementary activities to be proposed by applicants to the calls launched by Clean Sky 2. Synergies with the Clean Sky 2 programme and its technology roadmap can be achieved by broadening the scope, adding parallel activities or continuing CS2JU co-funded projects/activities through ESIF support. Clean Sky 2 also encourages the use of ESIF to build and enhance local capabilities and skills in fields related to the programme, in order to enhance the level of European competitiveness of stakeholders in this area.

The Clean Sky 2 JU action plan

At a strategic level, Clean Sky 2 launched in 2015 and further developed in 2016-17 a coherent and comprehensive policy strategy and an action plan on synergies for Member States and Regions which are interested in investing ESIF within the aeronautics R&I area and other related technologies. In this regard, Clean Sky 2 is developing closer interaction with interested Member States and Regions in Europe by discussing strategies and possible cooperation via a tailor-made approach, as well as designing modalities of cooperation depending on the level of interest, the regional stakeholders’ base, and the commitment which a Member State/Region may decide to engage with. In this context, Clean Sky 2 works in close cooperation with the State Representative on the synergies with ESIF and the coordination with the national programmes.
The aim of such cooperation has four potential benefits:

  • To strengthen R&I investments and innovation capacity;
  • To enhance the European dimension of the Regions in aeronautics;
  • To identify areas of technical cooperation which could complement the Clean Sky 2 programme and support its overall objectives;
  • To achieve a global leverage effect from synergies between ESIF and Clean Sky funding, and other national/regional funding.

While keeping the funding processes and rules of each competent funding authority separate, the purpose is to identify and apply mechanisms for ensuring synergies through ESIF in pertinent research and innovation projects from a specific Member State or Region, with a view to maximising its impact via the JTI framework of Clean Sky 2 projects.

How to foster synergies with Clean Sky 2 JU

To enhance the cooperation with Member States (MS) and Regions, as well as to facilitate the synergies with ESIF, Clean Sky 2 considers that the establishment of a MoU is an important and effective instrument which sets the framework of cooperation with a MS or Region. It provides a strategic approach and the oppurtunity to discuss in advance with MS and regional authorities ways to stimulate synergies.  The MoU follows the regional strategy/RIS3 and the applicable ESIF regional funding instruments which can identify thematic objectives or align the regional funding instruments to support possible pilot projects. Of course the signature of a MoU is not a pre-condition for developing synergies with Clean Sky 2, nor does it confer any sort of competitive advantage to regional stakeholders in Clean Sky calls.

By June 2018, Clean Sky 2 has signed seventeen (17) MoU at a national or regional level:

  • Occitanie (FR)
  • Andalusia, Catalonia, Castilla La Mancha, Castilla Y Leon (ES)
  • Campania (IT)
  • Romania (National level)
  • Czech Republic (National level)
  • Flevoland and Zuid-Holland (NL)
  • Västra Götaland and Östergötland  Götaland (SE)
  • Portugal (National level)
  • Podkarpackie (PL)
  • Greece (National level)
  • Sterea Ellada (GR)
  • Brandenburg (DE)

The Clean Sky 2 has also developed a pilot phase with a number of MS/Regions, in view of launching pilot projects and identifying best practices for further MS and regions. Clean Sky’s approach is intended to be kept as simple as possible and it is based on the complementarity of projects, rather than on the combination of funding in the same project.

Proposing Complementary Activities

In order to facilitate the synergies with ESIF, the Clean Sky 2 provides a “Guidance note” on how to include in the Calls for Proposal, complementary activities which may be supported by European Structural and Investment Funds. National and regional authorities in charge of ESIF planning and the ESIF managing authorities are encouraged to consult the guidance available in this section, which provides a general overview on synergies. They are also encouraged to consult the “Guidance for policy makers and implementing bodies” provided by the European Commission.

  • Core Partners and/or Partners in Clean Sky 2 are encouraged to introduce complementary activities that are in synergy/complementarity with the JU topic area and/or contribute to the objectives of the Clean Sky 2 Programme. This can be done either during the submission of the proposal or during the implementation of the project for amplification of scope/additional technical activities required.
  • In both cases, these activities shall be presented under a separate Work Package (ESIF WP) linked to the proposal or to the Clean Sky selected project. This WP should clearly indicate the ESIF and the relevant national/regional funding scheme/call or ESIF Operational Programme as the possible source of public funding. Clean Sky 2 has also developed a pilot phase with a number of MS/Regions, in view of launching pilot projects and identifying best practices for further MS and Regions.
  • Clean Sky 2 will assess any proposed complementary activities in the ESIF WP via a dedicated evaluation of the ‘Clean Sky Synergy Label’ with experts and based on H2020 criteria of excellence, impact and implementation.
For more information

Clean Sky 2 can provide additional information related to the synergies with ESIF and the implementation of a MoU. You can directly contact:

or send an e-mail to: