March 22, 2021

SESSION 7: H2020 to Horizon Europe: from ethical guidelines to democratic practices

Organisers: Robert Gianni; Darian Meacham; Dani Shanley
Speakers: Nina BraunGeorgios KolliarakisJohn PearsonBernard Reber

H2020 allocated a strong role to ethics by adopting mandatory standards and implementing a cross-cutting strategy named Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).

Some of the strengths of RRI are exemplified by its attempt to empower stakeholders and to increase awareness about ethical issues across different domains. RRI has, nonetheless, encountered criticism due to its abstractness and the related difficulties of translating its keys and principles into concrete measures.

With the transition from H2020 to Horizon Europe, two concomitant and related shifts can be identified. On the one hand, the emphasis on ethics has decreased; both with regards to the ethics guidelines framework and the responsible approach to research and innovation. On the other hand, we are also witnessing an increase in interest towards the democratic aspects of ethical processes through participative and deliberative approaches. There is therefore the risk that the shift from H2020 to Horizon Europe may witness a degree of ethical dilution with all the risks that this tendency may entail. Accordingly, it is important to articulate and reinforce a socially relevant understanding of responsibility via the discussion and operationalization of democratic principles (solidarity, freedom) and methodologies (deliberation, systemic turn, digitalisation).

The session aimed at exploring:

  • the positive aspects of RRI and the 3Os together with their limits for the future of ethics in Horizon Europe
  • the relation between hard and soft ethics for the ‘responsabilisation’ of research and innovation
  • the role of democratic theory for the uptake of ethical stances in research and innovation

The session was open to anyone interested and included social and human scientists, ethicists, political scientists and policymakers.

Read the Executive Summary

Watch the recorded session