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Call: The future of democracy and civic participation

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Programme
Acronym HE-CL2-DEMOCRACY
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[[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”.]].

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
Call
The future of democracy and civic participation
Description of call
"The future of democracy and civic participation"

Expected Outcome

Projects should contribute to both of the following expected outcomes:

  • Enhance and expand the implementation of civic participation as well as co-creation in democratic life at scale, including the least engaged communities and categories of the population, at all levels from local to European.
  • Improve the articulation between deliberative processes and representative institutions in liberal democracies, including through experimental approaches. Research should elucidate how to open up traditional institutions of representative democracy and increase trust in democratic governance through direct participatory processes as well as clear and transparent feedback mechanisms to citizens.

Scope

Civic participation is researched through a significant number and variety of projects under Horizon 2020, including research on co-creation of digital public services with citizens, on which further research and innovation can build. At the same time, this is a fast moving field as spontaneous forms of participation continue to emerge, such as youth movements for climate and sustainability, movements for racial justices and innovative forms of participation such as citizens’ assemblies. The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is continuously demonstrating the extent to which science and innovation policy needs to be at the core of exchanges between citizens and government through a participatory political process. This also includes the need to use digital means to engage citizens as societies are urged to move online and the need to engage citizens in the rapid digitalisation of governments as a reaction to the COVID-19 crisis. Social entrepreneurship is another significant trend attempting to achieve societal or political impact through individual initiative. More digital and organised participatory and deliberative processes are also being tested and implemented in many local, national and even European and global contexts.

The interface between these movements and processes and the representative institutions of liberal democracies has often been chaotic or conflictual. However, attempts are also made to improve these interactions and embed them in formal mechanisms. The digitalisation of societies and their governments poses an opportunity to reinforce civic participation.

Major challenges to civic participation include engaging the disenfranchised, structurally marginalised, or less spontaneously engaged parts of society, and channelling protest into non-conflictual, constructive engagement. Reaching out to them and ensuring that their voices are heard and listened to in the democratic debate, is key to guarantee the fairness and inclusiveness of our political systems.

Proposals are expected to address some of the following points: To review available historical evidence and more recent experience with various forms of civic participation in Europe: from spontaneous forms of engagement to organised participatory and deliberative processes; from traditional types such as participation to political parties and organised civil society to newer ones such as social entrepreneurship and digital tools of civic participation; the role of formal and informal grassroots initiatives; the role of social media and new technology in civic engagement; the use of public spaces. It is strongly encouraged to cover different scales of participation, from local to national, European and even global. Analysis is expected to review and compare the forms, depth and effectiveness of civic engagement on different topics of political life and different stages of the policy-making process, ranging from local issues such as spatial planning to international policy matters and issues traditionally considered as ‘reserved’ to experts or policy professionals, such as agenda setting in research and innovation policy making. Research should apply foresight methodologies to study how civic participation could be impacted by future changes in global governance and the increased digitalisation of societies and their governments. How different types of civic engagement can complement and reinforce each other may be explored. Consider as well how the educational system can support inclusive citizenship, with a view to ensure as extensive, inclusive and impactful participation in all aspects of democratic life.

Proposals should include a specific focus on inequalities in civic participation, including ethnicity, gender, intersectionalities and digital divides, and explore and propose remedies. They should examine how civic participation and co-creation in its various forms, including social activism and social innovation, articulates with the traditional mechanisms and institutions of representative democracy, including acting outside them. Proposals should reflect on the potential of digitalisation and new ICT for enhancing citizen participation, including for public policy making processes. They should propose ways to improve the interaction between policymakers and citizens to enhance the public sphere, including robust and transparent mutual feedback between policymakers and citizens. Proposals are encouraged to include experimental research and design thinking to test the insights gathered and to deploy innovative solutions to demonstrate the solutions proposed. Social innovation might be also considered by proposals if solutions require social change, new social practices or social ownerships.

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, 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:

  • 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 9.00 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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