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NORFACE call for proposals: democratic governance in turbulent times
Call for proposals of the NORFACE network that BELSPO recently joined

What is NORFACE?
NORFACE stands for New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe. It is a partnership of national research funding agencies in Europe dedicated to leading and developing opportunities for scientists in the area of social and behavioural sciences. NORFACE plays an important part in responding to the grand societal challenges by promoting research of the highest quality, sharing best practices among research funders and especially by making international collaboration between social scientists in Europe possible. From challenges brought on by migration and inequality to preparing for the impact of an aging society, researchers in the social sciences in Europe are looking at the behaviour of individuals and groups, and the dynamics of institutions and societies within Europe to understand and address these societal challenges.

What is this call for proposals about?

Democratic politics and governance in Europe are facing turbulent times. Party systems have crumbled or been substantially changed and so have citizen attachments to government, political parties and democratic procedures. This sixth NORFACE transnational programme on Democratic governance in a turbulent age offers a timely investigation of the precise nature of this recent turbulence, on how European states can negotiate it and develop strategies to enhance the quality of democratic politics and governance. Researchers from the social sciences are invited to apply for funding on behalf of an international consortium.
This programme has three major objectives:

  • To develop innovative and excellent research proposals addressing important challenges to democratic governance and politics;
  • To produce added value through the development of European cross-national research collaborations exploring the impacts of variations in social, economic, cultural and political contexts on changes in how democracies work;
  • To identify promising forms of policy innovation and institutional design and explore the conditions for their application in different jurisdictions.

The programme is structured around five of the most important challenges to democratic governance and politics, described in detail in the Programme Text accompanying the Call for Proposals:

  1. Inequality and redistribution
  2. The evolving politics of threat
  3. The democratisation of information
  4. Shifting identities and representation
  5. The changing authority of institutions

For this Call, specific national or regional eligibility rules apply, as specified in the Call for Proposals. This implies that eligibility may be defined at the individual or organisational level, depending on the country or funding agency.

Who can apply?
Researchers can submit a proposal on behalf of a project team comprised of at least three (3) eligible research partners based in three or more different countries participating in this NORFACE Call. All partners in a project team must have the interest and competence to undertake social science research within the specified topic of the Governance programme.

What can be applied for?
Project teams with three research partners from three different countries participating in this NORFACE Call may request a maximum of € 1.2 million in total across these partners. Project teams with four or more research partners from at least four different countries participating in this NORFACE Call may request a maximum of € 1.5 million total across these partners. Projects can have a duration of up to 36 consecutive months, with a minimum of 24 months. Each research partner may request funding in accordance with the national or regional eligibility rules applicable to them.

Available funding
The NORFACE Governance partners are pleased to announce that the total reserved budget for this Call is € 17.6 million. This programme is funded by 21 funding agencies from 19 countries across Europe and the European Commission under Horizon 2020 (grant agreement No 822166).
Funding can be applied for by researchers from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

As far as Belgium is concerned,

  • BELSPO is committing 500.000€ in this call (2x250.000€ per project). Eligible researcher for this funding by BELSPO should be affiliated to a non-profit research performing organisation (university, public research center, Federal scientific Institution...) and should have the core of their proposal nested within the federal competencies of the Belgian State.
  • FNRS is commiting 200.000€ and
  • FWO 700.000€ (2x350.000€).

See eligibility criteria for applying funding to FNRS/FWO/BELSPO in the call documents.

Applications to the NORFACE research programme will be processed in two stages. In the first stage, project teams are invited to submit an Outline Proposals by 19 February 2019, 14.00 CET. Eligible Outline Proposals will be assessed by an Evaluation Panel of international experts, who make a selection of proposals that could be funded based on the programme’s assessment criteria. Applicants will be informed on the results of the Outline Proposal stage in May 2019.
Applicants invited to the second stage will receive an invitation in May 2019 to submit a Full Proposal by 10 September 2019, 14.00 CET (NB this date may be subject to change). Eligible Full Proposals are submitted for assessment to external reviewers and applicants will be able to comment on the external reviews. The Evaluation Panel then assesses the applications, reviews, and rebuttals, arriving at a list of projects recommended for funding based on the assessment criteria. The NORFACE Network Board expects to make funding decisions and inform applicants in March 2020.

Full documentation on this call

Please download the documents from the following webpage:

Your federal contact point

If you have any questions on this call please contact: Aziz Naji, BELSPO, (

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