Call: Artificial intelligence, big data and democracy
|Type of Fund||Direct Management|
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[[https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2020/leaderless-struggle-democracy]]. 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: https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/4bebf83d-60ba-11e9-b6eb-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-94807842]] 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”.]].
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:
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|
Artificial intelligence, big data and democracy
|Description of call |
"Artificial intelligence, big data and democracy"
Projects should contribute to at least two of the following expected outcomes:
Big data and AI are shaping our societies at an unprecedented rate. We produce an ever-increasing amount of data revealing people’s attitudes, preferences, views and opinions. Public and private actors collect it and use it in multiple ways: e.g. companies “privatise” data to augment commercial returns while, on the other hand, state actors can use it for safety and security applications and the public sector to provide better, tailored services to citizens.
AI and big data open great opportunities in many fields of public interest: education, training, health, safety and security, public services, as well as for democratic processes and civic participation. However, both private and public uses contain some risks at the expense of citizens’ rights. These technologies, being at the forefront of datafication processes, pose new challenges both to core individual values such as privacy, freedom and equality, as well as to European collective values, such as fairness, security, inclusiveness, accountability and democratic control.
Proposals should analyse challenges and opportunities for society brought about by AI and big data. They should explore how to protect citizens from potential abuse enabled by these technologies both in the private and public domains. New and established regulations to control platforms using these technologies (beyond GDPR) should be examined. Strategies and policy recommendations on how to ensure that philosophical, legal and ethical values are embedded in the development of these technologies as outlined in the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence – a European approach to excellence and trust, are sought.
Examination should lead to solutions protecting from the possible negative impacts of these technologies on fundamental rights and democracy. Equally, it should lead to strategies that leverage them for enhancing civic participation and democracy.
Issues at stake include, inter alia: data ownership and/or inalienability; regulation of data flows; neutrality and explainability of algorithms and machine learning; value-centric, decentralised and/or open source designs for data processing platforms; counter-powers to dominant platforms; sensitive applications such as face recognition; etc.
Proposals are expected to address some of the following points: To build evidence, to review and to analyse threats to and opportunities for democracy, personal and collective European values stemming from AI and big data. This should involve a specific focus on gender issues and vulnerable populations, including persons with disabilities and people at risk of discrimination. They should propose ethical standards enforced through regulatory and governance frameworks. Supported with operational guidance, they should help protect citizens, uphold European values and ensure public trust in AI and the processing of big data. Innovative, inclusive and participative uses of AI and big data for civic engagement and democracy, including through experimental approaches, should be explored. Research is expected to design ways to educate European citizens about these technologies to enable informed civic participation in shaping them. Projects should build on existing results, findings and good practices, for instance those focused on Responsible Research and Innovation, and relevant projects supported under Horizon 2020’s Science with and for Society programme.
|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, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Justice, Safety & Security, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation|
|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:
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.
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.
|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:
|Further info|| |
Proposal page limits and layout:
The application form will have two parts:
Page limit - Part B: 45 pages
|Type of Funding||Grants|
|Financial details|| |
|Submission||Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.|