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Call: Politics and governance in a post-pandemic world

Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 2 - Destination 1: Innovative research on democracy and governance"

Democracies are more fragile and more vulnerable than in the past. The Freedom in the World Report (2020) shows that democracies across the globe are in crisis[[]]. At the same time, various European surveys show declining levels of trust in the political institutions of democracy.[[W. Merkel, Past, Present and Future of Democracy - Policy Review, 2019:]] In terms of legitimacy, there are signs of a potential shift from governance based on expertise, multilateralism and consensual policymaking towards majoritarianism, unilateralism, nationalism, populism and polarization. Research on the past and present challenges and tensions in democracy can help to better understand and strengthen democracy, its resilience and stability. It will foster democracy’s further development with a view to enhancing representation, participation, openness, pluralism, tolerance, the effectiveness of public policy, non-discrimination, civic engagement, the protection of fundamental rights and the rule of law. These reflect the European Union’s values as defined in Article 2 of the EU Treaty[[Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union, Title 1 “Common Provisions”, Article 2: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail”.]].

Expected impact:

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following expected impacts of the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan:

  • Democratic governance is reinvigorated by improving the accountability, transparency, effectiveness and trustworthiness of rule-of-law based institutions and policies and through the expansion of active and inclusive citizenship empowered by the safeguarding of fundamental rights.

The implementation of the research activities of the destination will assist in the re-invigoration and modernisation of democratic governance. The aim is to develop evidence-based innovations, policies and policy recommendations, as well as institutional frameworks that expand political participation, social dialogue, civic engagement, gender equality and inclusiveness. Activities will also contribute to enhancing the transparency, effectiveness, accountability and legitimacy of public policy-making. They will help improving trust in democratic institutions, safeguarding liberties and the rule of law and protecting democracy from multidimensional threats. Rich historical, cultural and philosophical perspectives, including a comparative dimension, will set the frame for soundly understanding present developments and help to map future pathways. In the medium to long term, the knowledge, data, scientifically robust recommendations and innovations generated will enhance decision making on all aspects relevant to democratic governance. As the Destination aims directly at citizen engagement and at producing lasting change, it is of particular importance that the research and innovation actions promote the highest standards of transparency and openness. When applicable, it is encouraged to open up the process, criteria, methodologies and data to civil society in the course of the research.

Link Link to Programme
Politics and governance in a post-pandemic world
Description of call
"Politics and governance in a post-pandemic world"

Expected Outcome

Projects should contribute to both of the following expected outcomes:

  • Comparative and historical analysis of the multilevel political impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, including governance responses.
  • Recommendations, based on normative and empirical approaches, to enhance the capacity of the EU and other democratic institutions, governments and intergovernmental bodies to build responses to global catastrophes based on international collaboration, solidarity, the rule of law and respect of fundamental values and human rights.


The COVID-19 crisis affects our societies in profound and multifaceted ways. Far beyond the public health threat, the crisis causes economic dislocations, social disruptions and information disorder that test political processes and institutions. In particular, certain measures taken by national governments in the context of states of emergency to contain the virus as fast and effectively as possible represent fundamental challenges to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, including women’s rights. In addition, the crisis also opens opportunities for positive change and innovative new solutions that research actions will help to identify and grasp.

Even if allegedly temporary, derogations from fundamental constitutional checks and balances, individual rights and civil liberties might render liberal democracies permeable to illiberal attitudes and mind frames. In this vein, research should examine the impact of the pandemic on populist and extremist discourses and proposals, and assess whether it has bolstered polarisation and the appeal of authoritarianism or whether, on the contrary, it has provided impetus and momentum for an effective uphold of democratic accountability and judicial control.

Moreover, a stocktaking exercise should allow identifying whether the political trend emerging from the crisis is a demand for greater and improved collaboration and concerted action amongst EU Member States and Associated Countries or, on the contrary, an overall “renationalisation” of the EU and international spheres.

Proposals are expected to address the following: Examine the impacts of the different “exceptional or crisis politics”, including the invocation of emergency clauses under human rights law, on the constitutional and democratic polity (rule of law, political institutions, political participation, human rights and freedoms). A comparative and historical analysis, taking into account the varying approaches followed by the different governments, including the digitalisation of political participation and the respect for human rights and freedoms in the digital sphere, is encouraged. Take stock of the reconfiguration of the geopolitical landscape following the responses and policies put forward by the different actors of the international order. Identify and propose changes and reforms required by the global governance in order to enhance the capacity to cope with and react to similar future crises. In particular, examine and propose “circuit-breaker” mechanisms that could isolate systemic risks early on and prevent them from spreading. Build evidence, including based on past crises, on how international cooperation, at both European and global levels, is a vital tool for national governments to overcome contemporary large-scale crises. Propose ways for the EU and the multilateral system to demonstrate that they can complement and lead national governments’ efforts in contexts of security and health threats. In this respect, the impact on the legitimacy of the EU following on its role and actions during the crisis is of particular interest. Study how governmental and societal responses to the pandemic, including the digitalisation of government and society, have affected trust in public authorities and among groups and individuals in society. This includes research on pandemic-related disinformation and mechanisms to cope with. A comparative analysis of the information flow between science, politics and civil society is encouraged. Proposals should actively engage with a range of stakeholders, such as social partners, civil society, citizens, research practitioners, industry and public authorities. International cooperation is encouraged in order to better achieve the expected outcomes.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Community Integration, European Citizenship, Shared Services, Administration & Governance, Art & Culture, Cultural Heritage, History, Media, Equal Rights, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Social Inclusion
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, National Government, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 2.00 and 3.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 9.90 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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