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Research and innovation

Democracy and governance

Research in democracy and governance, funding details, project details and policy briefs

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 Europe

In the current research and innovation funding programme, 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.

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.


    Factsheet16 September 2022
    Media and democracy (Factsheet)

    EU research and innovation protecting media integrity.
    “Media are not only a key sector of the cultural and creative industries. Media, both traditional and digital, audiovisual and printed, news and social, are at the heart of a vibrant European public sphere. Alongside building a regulatory framework that ensures media pluralism, freedom of expression and transparency of ownership, the EU has dedicated under Horizon Europe €18 million to research on media for democracy and the impact of online social networks and new media on politics. In the path for democracy, we need media to be free.”
    Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

    Publication cover
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