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Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform

STEP seal

  • The STEP Seal (so called “Sovereignty Seal” under the STEP Regulation) is the EU quality label awarded to the high-quality projects contributing to the STEP objectives. It will give them visibility and help attract alternative or additional public and private investments.  

    Coming soon - The list of projects awarded the first STEP seals will be published in the second half of 2024, when the results of calls for proposals from the programmes covered by STEP will be released.

How does it work?

The STEP Seal will be awarded by the European Commission to projects meeting the minimum quality requirements (including eligibility, exclusion, and award criteria) in the selection process of a competitive procedure of calls for proposal under the Digital Europe Programme, the European Defence Fund, the EU4Health programme, Horizon Europe, or the Innovation Fund.

To get awarded the STEP Seal, projects must contribute to at least one the STEP objectives:  

  • support the development or manufacturing of critical technologies throughout the Union, or safeguarding and strengthening the respective value chains in the following sectors:  
    • digital technologies and deep tech innovation,
    • clean and resource efficient technologies, including net-zero technologies,  
    • biotechnologies.  
  • address shortages of labour and skills critical to all kinds of quality jobs in those sectors.  

Calls for proposals aimed at STEP investment areas will be initiated through the 11 contributing EU programmes. Project proposals submitted will be assessed based on the rules of each individual programme.

The award criteria will ensure that all project proposals evaluated above the threshold and considered for funding and STEP Seal award will meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • They bring an innovative, cutting-edge element with significant economic potential to the Single Market   


  • They help reduce or prevent strategic dependencies of the Union.

There is no additional specific procedure to apply for the STEP Seal. This latter can only be obtained when applying to a relevant call under one of the above-mentioned programmes.

Projects being awarded the STEP Seal will be displayed (subject to the agreement of the project promoter) on the STEP Portal under section For investors.

The STEP Seal will be valid for the duration of the project. Its validity will however expire if the project is relocated outside the Union or if it has not started within 5 years of the award of the seal.

Programmes concerned

Who can benefit and why is it helpful?

Any organisation or consortium established in any of the 27 EU Member States (or consortium for which at least one member is established in a EU Member State), which has applied for funding under the Digital Europe Programme, the European Defence Fund, the EU4Health programme, Horizon Europe or the Innovation Fund, provided that the project contributes to the STEP objectives and that it has been assessed as eligible and complying with the minimum quality requirements defined in a call for proposals.

The STEP Seal will enhance access to EU funding, notably by facilitating alternative cumulative or combined funding from several EU budget instruments. For instance, Member States can grant support from Cohesion policy funds to projects having been awarded a STEP Seal directly, without any additional selection procedures.

In addition, projects being awarded a seal will be promoted on the STEP Portal. This will provide them with additional visibility towards investors and may help attract public and private funding by certifying their quality and contribution to the STEP objectives.

benefits per funding instrument