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Call key data
Democratic governance for times of disruptive changes to the social contract
Horizon Europe - Cluster 2 - Destination 1: Innovative research on democracy and governance
Estimated EU contribution per project
between € 2,000,000.00 and € 3,000,000.00
Link to the call
Link to the submission
A social contract is the intellectual construct referring to the agreement between members of a society, community, or organisation that spells out the obligations, functions, and rights of each citizen agreeing to the contract. The classic concept of social contract also implies the notion of the individual renunciation of some freedoms, in exchange for core public goods, including the right to democratic participation and the protection that societal life can offer. When the social contract fails to uphold its end of the bargain and leaves its citizens disappointed, there is a risk of social unrest and political instability. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed social and economic inequalities, leading to calls for a new social contract at national, EU and global levels based on inclusivity, participation and sustainability. Such calls may include requests for new articulations of the basic justifications, functions, rights and duties of democratic societies and their citizens likewise.
Some societies flourish while others struggle to maintain the social fabric, hardly avoiding the breakdown of their social contracts. Certain forms or configurations of the social contract appear more successful than others, and not necessarily because of their immutability or endurance. Instead, flexibility, adaptability, trust and resilience seem to be factors of success, in particular vis-à-vis external shocks or disruptive forces (a pandemic, abrupt technological changes, wars…). Such disruptions may hit a pre-exiting equilibrium, bringing to the light dimensions unforeseen by the existing social contract and putting it under stress. In such situations, the social contract could withstand, in the case of better prepared societies, and continue delivering after necessary adaptations, or alternatively could break up, not resisting the pressure, and open the door to the establishment of a new contract through some dramatic or arduous exercise.
In order to identify the factors that drive, or contribute to, the social success of certain societies and their social contract models, proposals are invited to use narrative approaches (historical, legal, anthropological methods and analysis) or data-driven / computer-based approaches, or mixed approaches. In terms of the geographical scope of the research, proposals should focus on EU and/or Member States societies, while international cooperation allowing comparative perspectives in view of extrapolations relevant to EU policies is also encouraged.
Clustering and cooperation with other selected projects under this topic and other relevant projects are strongly encouraged.
- Better understanding of ways to account for the need for evaluation and changes in the social contracts in the EU Member States countries through theoretical, philosophical, political, historical, legal, normative and comparative studies, amongst others.
- Investigate and propose safeguards and mechanisms that need to be in place in those circumstances when questioning the very foundations of the social contract.
- Scenarios for how new social contracts in EU Member States could look like or approaches for how to develop the narratives for new social contracts, accounting for the fact of the EU membership and the rights and duties that go with it.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
EU Body, Education and training institution, International organization, Natural Person, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- 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.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.