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European Research Executive Agency
News article1 December 2023European Research Executive Agency3 min read

Research Unwrapped: unveiling the holiday spirit with EU-Funded projects and how they made a difference in 2023

The holiday season is around the corner, so put on your warm socks, grab your hot chocolate and enjoy this holiday-themed reading of how EU-funded research made a difference in 2023.

A photograph of coffee in a cup on a wooden board with pine tree branches.
© European Union, 2023; Image source: sofyabolotinaphotos, Canva


In a world in which we often lack the time for what is precious to us, the winter holiday season offers an opportunity to slow down and reflect on what we have accomplished.

This holiday special offers a glimpse of how EU-funded projects fed into EU policy priorities in 2023, with a special festive twist to accompany you throughout the winter.

The celebration of a remarkable birthday

The start of the winter season coincided with a significant day: the birth anniversary of Marie Skłodowska-Curie - a scientific luminary whose contributions altered the course of science. In one of this year’s most popular articles, we celebrated the anniversary of Marie Curie's birth and paid tribute to her work. The article also highlights the lasting impact of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), that boost researchers’ careers through mobility and training. To-date, the programme has also supported numerous Nobel Prize winners. Let us draw inspiration from Marie-Curie's legacy as we navigate the winter holidays, embracing the spirit of curiosity, discovery, and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead.

The partnership of science and peace

The holiday season invites us to delve into the universal yearning for harmony. Beyond the glitz and glamour, it becomes a time to foster connections, promote understanding, and celebrate diversity and peace.

Our article on building trust in science for peace and development explores the connection between science and peace and how these can work together to facilitate greater good for all. The EU-funded projects featured in the article prove not only that science can pave the way towards peace, but also how to build and maintain trust in science to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

The magic behind our tasty meal

At the heart of this winter tale lies the joy of communal feasting. Across the world, people gather to share meals that resonate with tradition and meaning. Olive oil - the European liquid gold – is a fundamental basis for many of the meals we enjoy.

Make sure to watch the video we produced for World Olive Tree Day on  LinkedIn and on Instagram. EU-funded projects highlighted in the video are working tirelessly to preserve olive oil so that we can all delight in the meals we love and cherish. The projects also feed into the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, which aims to ensure a sufficient and varied supply of safe, nutritious, affordable and sustainable food.

The plastic-free holidays

Amidst the festivities, there is a growing consciousness about the environmental impact of our celebrations. The issue of plastic waste has become a pressing concern. For example, wrapping paper typically contains a plastic coating, making it unsuitable for recycling.

Horizon Europe funds research projects that tackle the growing problem of plastic pollution. Our article on innovative EU research fighting plastic pollution reminds us that people’s actions, notably through Citizen Science, can make a difference for the environment. In the light of the recent Revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, EU-funded projects are also seeking ways to implement sustainable packaging material and developing microplastics removal strategies so that we can hope to see more snowflakes than microplastics.

The winter light of democracy

In this exploration of the winter holiday season, let us embrace a narrative and appreciate the democratic values we all share. The European projects mentioned in the article a new push for democracy are researching populist sentiments and fostering research to boost democratic governance and practices, which are at the heart of the European Commission’s priorities.

As we gather with loved ones and enjoy the coziness of our homes, let us remember the essence of democracy: the strength of diverse voices and the freedom to take part in our future. The upcoming European elections serve as a reminder of our possibility to participate in the democratic processes.

Season’s greetings!

Embracing the enchanting spirit of the winter holiday! At the European Research Executive Agency (REA), we extend our warmest wishes to you all. This past year has been a journey of resilience, growth and shared experiences.

May the upcoming year be filled with joy, peace and the fulfillment of your aspirations. See you in the New Year!


Publication date
1 December 2023
European Research Executive Agency