Reaction of EU-LIFE alliance on Horizon Europe’s Cancer Mission

EU-LIFE, the alliance of leading independent research institutes in the life sciences, hereby presents its response to the Cancer mission draft.

EU-LIFE fully supports an EU mission on cancer and congratulates the Mission Board for Cancer with its Interim report outlining the main goal and its proposed lines of action and the final recommendations handed over to the European Commission during the RiDays 2020. Cancer is often still a deadly disease affecting millions, causing pain and grief for patients and relatives and puts an ever increasing burden on our economies and health care systems. A concerted action at the European level is urgently needed and could benefit the whole of Europe and beyond.

The Mission Board sets an ambitious goal to save an additional 3 million Europeans from a premature, cancer-related death over the period 2021 - 2030.The proposed actions are only realistic if there will be enough funding available to support all the plans. As we have no indication yet of the amount available for the cancer mission, we cannot say whether the mission plan is indeed realistic.

Our main concern about the cancer mission is the lack of focus and detail. Almost every aspect of cancer is addressed; not only the essential research but also many other aspects such as support for the relatives of cancer survivors and EU-wide equal access to cancer prevention. These are all highly relevant and should be addressed, but the latter take away the mission-implied research focus needed to deliver a big impact.

Furthermore, some of the proposed actions should not be supported through the Horizon Europe programme (and budget), since they are not on innovation or research. Therefore we propose that the cancer mission focuses on a limited number of Research & Innovation topics as part of Horizon Europe and urge the EC to develop (based on the actions mentioned in the Cancer Mission) supportive policies and actions outside the scope of Horizon Europe, in a synergistic way.

Regarding concrete recommendations on the cancer draft plan, EU-LIFE supports the initiative taken by the European Academy of Cancer Sciences (EACS), in consultation with many stakeholders, to draft a more detailed cancer research plan to assist the Cancer Mission Board in finalising the Cancer Mission outline. The proposal provides a more detailed and focused plan of action covering the entire cancer research, cancer care and prevention continuum. We urge the European Commission to adopt this well-balanced proposal during the implementation phase starting now. In addition, we provide further feedback on the Cancer mission draft resulting from a consultation to the 15 EU-LIFE member institutes, in the form of recommendations to the text.


EU-LIFE is an alliance of research centers whose mission is to support and strengthen European research excellence ( EU-LIFE members are leading research institutes in their countries and internationally renowned for producing excellent research, widely transferring knowledge and nurturing talent. Since its foundation in 2013, EU-LIFE has become a stakeholder in European policy participating regularly in the EU policy dialogue. The International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw joined the consortium from January 2020.

EU-LIFE Partners

Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG, Spain) | Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC, Czech Republic) | European Institute of Oncology (IEO, Italy) | Flanders Institute For Biotechnology (VIB, Belgium) | Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI, Switzerland) | Institut Curie (France) | Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM, Finland) | Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC, Portugal) | International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw (IIMCB, Poland) | Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC, Germany) | Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (CeMM, Austria) | The Babraham Institute (Babraham, United Kingdom) | The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI, The Netherlands) | The University of Copenhagen Biotech Research & Innovation Centre (BRIC, Denmark).


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