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Call: Democratic politics in the EU’s neighbourhood

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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
Democratic politics in the EU’s neighbourhood
Description of call
"Democratic politics in the EU’s neighbourhood"

Expected Outcome

Projects should contribute to at least two of the following expected outcomes:

  • Comprehensive stocktaking of developments over the last decade, so that the European Union’s democracy support efforts can both regain traction and be revamped where necessary.
  • Development of an improved policy toolkit for supporting liberal democracy in the European Union’s neighbourhood, paving the way for more stability and cooperation.
  • Evidence base for the mid-term review of the implementation of the Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
  • Reflection on the European Union’s aspiration and role in supporting democracy in its neighbourhood.

Scope:

Since the EU Council conclusions of 2009, EU democracy support has evolved and has been fine-tuned, with advances and setbacks. Following the adoption of the EU strategic framework on human rights and democracy in 2012, the EU adopted three Action Plans in order to implement its commitments and reach its goals. The current Action Plan covers years 2020-2024.

Despite the hopes raised by the ‘colour revolutions’ in Eastern Europe in the 2000s and the Arab Spring in 2011 as boosters of democratisation in the European neighbourhood, a more troubling reality persists: some democratic advances coexist with the continued persistence of authoritarian rule in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North African countries. Research should assess the EU’s actual role in promoting democracy. It should examine the EU’s influence on political governance in the neighbourhood, its capacity to react and address potential gaps between the declared intentions, and the results and consequences of its democracy support policies. Critical reflection should facilitate understanding of the dynamics, including opposition to the EU’s democratic efforts in the neighbourhood. Such an overarching assessment should contribute to innovations in democratisation policies corresponding to the realities on the ground.

Proposals are expected to address some of the following points: To take stock of developments in democracy building or failure in the EU’s neighbourhood countries. Research should draw lessons as regards success factors and barriers (political, economic, social, cultural, etc.) in the different regional, national and supranational contexts. The role of third country actors like the United States of America, China, Russia and their impact on democratisation processes or the entrenchment of authoritarianism should be examined. Similarly, the interplay of security and stability considerations and democratisation support in the EU’s agenda and actions should be analysed. Proposals should also assess the mechanisms the EU uses to support political change, as well as examine the discourses and narratives it employs and the actors it targets. They are expected to collect reliable and comparable data on funding for democracy, human rights, gender equality, the rule of law and good governance support, in order to build an account of the outcomes of a decade’s efforts, and thus facilitate learning and improvement. International cooperation with partners from countries in the EU’s neighbourhood is strongly encouraged.

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, Demographic Change, Migration, 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

  • Due to the scope of this topic, legal entities established in all member states of the African Union are exceptionally eligible for Union funding.

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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