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Call: Democratic discourses and the rule of law

Type of Fund Action programme
Description of programme
"Horizon 2020 - Societal Challenges "
A challenge-based approach will bring together resources and knowledge across different fields, technologies and disciplines, including social sciences and the humanities. This will cover activities from research to market with a new focus on innovation-related activities, such as piloting, demonstration, test-beds, and support for public procurement and market uptake.
Funding focuses on the following challenges:
  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing;
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy;
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy;
  • Smart, green and integrated transport;
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials;
  • Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies;
  • Secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.
Link Link to Programme
Description of programme
"Europe in a changing world - Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies"

This subprogramme will address social exclusion, discriminations and various forms of inequalities. It will explore new forms of innovation and strengthen the evidence base for the Innovation Union, the European Research Area and other relevant EU policies. It will promote coherent and effective cooperation with third countries. Finally, it will address the issues of memories, identities, tolerance and cultural heritage. The approach adopted in the present calls is in line with the Horizon 2020 Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) cross-cutting issue, engaging multiple actors including society, integrating the gender and ethical dimensions, ensuring the access to research outcomes. Some Topics deal specifically with formal and informal (science) education.

Democratic discourses and the rule of law
Description of call
"Democratic discourses and the rule of law"

Discourses on the legitimacy of the EU, and especially its democratic deficit, have been a perennial issue for many years but have become significantly more urgent and pressing in times of crisis and austerity. At both ends of the political spectrum, claims about the illegitimacy of current EU governance and regulation have found broader resonance, expressed both in public manifestations of discontent combined with claims for alternative forms of legitimacy and in electoral successes of radical right and radical left parties across Europe. In this context, questions of justice, fairness and European solidarity have equally been raised. The concept of justice is inherently connected with the rule of law and entails a right to justification. Fundamental rights are also key in this regard.


The European Stability Mechanism and the Fiscal Compact have been regarded by some as emblematic challenges not only to the rule of law but also to democratic governance. What is more, especially in the light of some recent election results in EU Member States, it seems as if not only the legitimacy of certain policies and institutions have been questioned, but also fundamental issues concerning the locus and exercise of popular sovereignty have been placed on the agenda. The specific challenge is to take the cues from such developments and ensuing contestations over sovereignty and legitimacy in order to reappraise discourses about democratic legitimacy on the one hand, and the rule of law and justice as increasingly thorny issues for the European public space on the other.


The research to address this challenge should focus on one or two dimensions that have to be comprehensively addressed taking into account the global context:


  • Sovereignty and democracy
  • Legitimacy through the rule of law, delivery of justice and fundamental rights
Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Community Integration, European Citizenship, Shared Services, Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Art & Culture, Cultural Heritage, History, Media, Administration & Governance
Funding area EU Member States
Candidate Countries
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Iceland / Ísland
Norway / Norge
Switzerland / Schweiz / Suisse / Svizzera
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Origin of Applicant EU Member States

Albania / Shqipëria
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Iceland / Ísland
Montenegro / Crna Gora/Црна Гора
North Macedonia / Северна Македонија
Norway / Norge
Serbia / Сpбија
Switzerland / Schweiz / Suisse / Svizzera
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Research Institution, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), NGO / NPO, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

At least three legal entities. Each of the three must be established in a different EU Member State or Horizon 2020 associated country. All three legal entities must be independent of each other.

Recurring Call No
Type of Funding Grants
Financial details

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of 5 million € would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.


EU funding rate: 100%.


Electronic application here

Contact Details Link to the National Contact Point Finder.

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