Democracy and governance

The European 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 (Article 2 of the EU Treaty). Yet, trust in governance and democratic institutions has been put under threat in the recent years, a situation that was aggravated by the Covid-19 crisis.

One of the European Commission's priorities is to give a new push for European democracy, by giving European citizens a bigger say and protecting our democracy from threats such as external interference, disinformation and online hate speech.

New knowledge and solutions are needed to

  • tackle political extremism and polarisation
  • strengthening democratic participation and active citizenship
  • foster awareness and exercise of democratic rights
  • understand the role of media in fostering or inhibiting political dialogue
  • support innovation of the public sector
  • enhance accountability and legitimacy, protection of rights, and to help strengthen trust in democratic institutions

Research and innovation funding for democracy and governance

Funding under Horizon 2020

Under the 2014-2020 EU research and innovation funding programme, Horizon 2020, almost 400 research projects received more than € 800 million for issues such as

  • trust in governance, the rule of law
  • societal and political engagement of young people
  • social rights and citizenship
  • populism, violent extremism and polarisation
  • exploring deliberative and participatory democracy approaches to foster political participation
  • involving citizens in deliberations to develop workable solutions for the Green Deal
  • enabling digital, open government and data-driven policy-making
  • transformation of public administration, supporting internal innovation efforts of governments through mutual learning, experimentation in policy-making, open government approaches, system thinking, and innovation capacity building in public administrations

These European research and innovation investments also helped to improve coordination between national research policies, to foster networking between NGOs and civil society stakeholders, and enabled experimentation and mutual learning.

Funding under Horizon Europe

In the next research and innovation funding programme beginning in 2021, Horizon Europe, a specific intervention area under Cluster 2 of the programme will support innovative research on democracy and governance.

Having a dedicated section for democracy and governance allows for a holistic approach working with other EU and national programmes dedicated to citizens, rights and values and reform of the public sector.

Publications

Project policy briefs

Many Horizon 2020 projects relating to democracy and governance publish policy briefs and other results and research papers while they are active. Some examples below. 

Reconnect
Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and Rule of Law

Project details

Policy Brief 1: Fundamental Principles under Pressure? – Democracy and Rule of Law Transformations in the European Union

Policy Brief 2: “Fundamental Principles in times of crisis – Democracy and Rule of Law in the European Union”

Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OECD)

Project details 

Publications

EnTrust
Enlightened Trust in Governance

Project details

Policy Brief 1: The theoretical and normative underpinnings of trust and distrust

Redem
Reconstructing Democracy in Times of Crisis

Project details

Insights blog

EURYKA 
Reinventing Democracy in Europe: Youth Doing Politics in Times of Increasing Inequalities (ended January 2020)

Project details

Policy briefs

EU3D 
Differentiation, Dominance, Democracy

Project details 

Publications

TROPICO
Transforming into Open, Innovative and Collaborative Governments

Project details 

Policy briefs

BRaVE 
Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism and Polarisation

Project details

Publications

Events

GREASE
Radicalisation, Secularism and the Governance of Religion: Bringing together European and Asian Perspectives

Project details

Publications

DEBUNKER 
The Problem of European Misperceptions in Politics, Health, and Science: Causes, Consequences, and the Search for Solutions

Project details 

European Research Council (ERC) project story