25th April 2024 |12:00 – 13:00 CET, Online

Find the conference programme here and event here.

Global surveys show that democracies struggle in terms of citizens’ trust towards the institutions – especially towards those that govern such democracies (government, parliament, political parties). Furthermore, in recent years, abstentionism has been on the rise in most of the elections in Europe, adding another layer of uncertainty to the state of health of democracies.

Nonetheless, the Enlightened Trust (EnTrust) research project has demonstrated, on the one hand, that not all distrust is detrimental to democracy and, on the other hand, that a balanced mix of trust in the values of the system and distrust to monitor their respect can be beneficial for democracy, in what has been called ‘enlightened trust’. Furthermore, one-fifth of the citizens surveyed cross-country for the project show low levels of both institutional trust and distrust, showing an alienation towards the political system that can prove problematic for democracy.

The EnTrust project has drafted a Guide on ‘Enlightened Trust’ to provide a concise picture of available scientific evidence on levels and forms of trust and distrust in political institutions, the determinants that impact their development, and the consequences and potential scenarios that are associated with different constellations of trust and distrust in democratic governance.

The debate will discuss the Guide on ‘Enlightened Trust’ and reflect on how to redress the narrative of generalised distrust and how to constructively re-engage disillusioned citizens.

Watch the live stream of the debate here.

On behalf of the EnTrust consortium, we are glad to invite you to watch the debate  “Evidence-informed policy making and the role of ‘knowledge-intermediaries’: Discussion around the EnTrust Manual for Evidence-informed Policy Making”, that will take place online on 19 March 2024, 12:00 – 13:00 CET. 

The event will discuss the role of scientific evidence in policy making, its current challenges and future paths. In this context, it will also reflect upon the role that  ‘knowledge-intermediaries’ (e.g. parliamentary research services, think tanks, consultants, journalists) have in detecting, processing and presenting policy-relevant evidence for the use of policymakers. 

The EnTrust project has drafted a Manual for Evidence-informed Policy Making that sheds light on the problems policy making encounters in identifying and using relevant evidence, and the potential processes and paths to find and capitalise on it. The event will see the participation of speakers from the world of ‘knowledge-intermediaries’: the discussion will provide feedback to the draft of the manual and offer opportunities to exchange experiences about the role and work of knowledge intermediaries. 

Read the programme and access the live streaming here.

After four years, the project is coming to an end, and the consortium presented the findings of research on trust and distrust in governance in two events:

  • Research conference

The research conference of the EnTrust project, organised in collaboration with the Partnership Team of the European Parliament, was dedicated to the question of how trust in governance can be (re)built, with a strong focus on the EU level. The conference included workshops on the practice- and policy-relevance, as well as future research, related to the EnTrust work package topics. 

For the agenda of the Research conference, please click here.

  • Final conference

The final conference of the EnTrust project, hosted by MEP René Repasi, was dedicated to the question of how trust in governance can be (re)built, with a strong focus on the EU level. The conference featured keynote speeches and a high-level panel discussion, as well as a presentation of policy recommendations that encompass different governance levels and stakeholders. After a break, the late afternoon was dedicated to the vision of young people on the future of the EU. This session included the awards ceremony of the related EnTrust creative youth contest. 

For the draft agenda of the Final Conference, please click here.

You may watch the video recording of the Final Conference on our YouTube channel.

Trust and Distrust in Governance: Exploring the Impact of Social and Political Dynamics

International Conference organised by the EU-funded EnTrust project

September 28-29, 2023 – University of Siena, Italy

Find the updated conference programme here.

Trust in governance is considered a pivotal element for democracy. In light of multiple and interrelated crises of recent years an increase of distrust in governance came to the fore and became a highly debated issue, both within the public and the academic field. At the same time, however, scepticism and distrust themselves are productive elements within the democratic arena, as it is a key role of democratic citizens or social movements to critically scrutinise the actions and decisions of governmental actors. This indicates a complex interrelation between trust and distrust, the factors that are responsible for these interrelations, and the ways how trust and distrust need to be evaluated. All these issues contribute to puzzling questions that still await clarification.

The processes of the construction of dis/trust take place on different levels (such as the local, national, European) and involve the individual citizens, collective actors such as social movements and political parties, political institutions, and public spheres. To unfold the dynamics of dis/trust and their consequences for democracy it is therefore indispensable to consider a variety of factors. These include socio-economic, political, cultural, and psychological aspects on the individual level, but also reciprocal relations and practices between citizens and various governance actors, political contestations and public debates on the collective level. Likewise, the heterogenous historical legacies or cultural contexts of (European) nations and regions need to be taken into account.

The conference takes up the overarching topic of trust and distrust in democratic governments and institutions and aspires to explore it in all its various dimensions and aspects.

We invite you to register as an observer to the conference. Please send an email to entrust@uni-siegen.de by September 15, 2023.


September 28, Thursday

08:30 – 09:00 | Registration

09:00 – 09:30 | Welcome / Opening Remarks

09:30 – 11:00 | Paper Presentations: Parallel Session (1 & 2)

Session One: The Realm of Bureaucracy, Local Institutions and the Creation of Dis/Trust

Session Two: The European Union as a Source and Target of Trust and Distrust

11:00 – 11:30 | Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00 | Paper Presentations: Parallel Session (3 & 4)

Session Three: Science, Expert Knowledge, and the Complex Landscape of Trust

Session Four: Regulatory Agencies and Processes of Trust

13:00 – 14:00 | Lunch

14:00 – 15:30 | Paper Presentations: Parallel Session (5 & 6)

Session Five: Trust and Distrust in the Context of Migration and Refugees

Session Six: Perspectives on Childhood and Adolescence

15:30 – 16:00 | Coffee Break

16:00 – 17:30 | Paper Presentations: Parallel Session (7 & 8)

Session Seven: Trust in Transition: Lifespan Dynamics

Session Eight: Navigating Trust and Distrust in the Era of the COVID-19 Pandemic

17:30 – 18:30 | Keynote by Pippa Norris (Harvard University): “Trust in Government Worldwide: The Role of Information Environments and Cognitive Skills” (Virtual Presentation)

19:30 | Joint Dinner

September 29, Friday

09:00 – 10:00 | Keynote by Tereza Capelos (University of Birmingham): “Hot Emotionality and the Fracture of Trust in the Era of Grievance Politics”

10:00 – 10.30 | Coffee Break

10:30 – 12:30 | Paper Presentations: Parallel Session (9 & 10)

Session Nine: Protest, Political Contestation, and the Formation of Dis/Trust

Session Ten: Trust under Siege: Populism and Authoritarian Tendencies

12:30 – 13:30 | Lunch

13:30 – 14:30 | Keynote by Martin Hartmann (University of Lucerne): “The Conflictual Potential of Trust. Introducing a New Perspective”

14:30 – 16:00 | Paper Presentations: Parallel Session (11 & 12)

Session Eleven: The Role of Media and Social Networks in Dis/Trust Contestations

Session Twelve: Public Deliberations, Participatory Citizenship and Institutional Trust

16:00 | Closing Colloquy: Project Presentations, Posters and Coffee Chats

Tracing (Dis)Trust in the Run Up to the European Elections: Adult and Youth Attitudes towards Governments and Institutions

28 June 2023 | 10:30 – 12:00 CET | Online

Join us for this roundtable discussion that delves into the attitudes of youth and adults towards governments and institutions at different levels of governance, with a specific focus on the topics of trust and distrust.

With the European Elections 2024 on the horizon and millions of young people prepared to cast their votes for the very first time, restoring and strengthening public trust in our political institutions has once again emerged as a key priority on the political agenda. The EnTrust research project offers an innovative approach to understanding and addressing (dis)trust in governance, providing valuable insights and measures to support democratic societies in Europe. One objective of the project is to elucidate the significance of political (dis)trust among young people and delve into its developmental process. A notable illustration of this is the emergence and expression of (dis)trust in political institutions amidst the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the project conducted large-scale surveys in seven European countries to gather the opinions of citizens and residents regarding (dis)trust towards various levels of governance, especially during challenging economic times. Of particular interest were country variations, political orientations, views on European integration, and other relevant characteristics.

The roundtable discussion will include two presentations of exclusive preliminary research findings related to the topics addressed above, offering decision-makers and stakeholders valuable evidence to (re)build trust in both national and EU governance. Experts from EU institutions and civil society will provide commentary on the findings, sharing insights into the significance of trust in their respective fields of work. Other participants will be invited to intervene and ask questions to further enrich the discussion.



How can the EU fight (partisan) Disinformation and Hate Speech and protect Media Freedom and Human Rights?

The EnTrust project invites you to online expert roundtables about trustworthy media on 9 February 2023 from 16:00 to 18:00 (CET) with selected stakeholders from European governance institutions, media organisations, civil society and academia.

In the last years, the relationship between the media and trust in democratic institutions has received increasingly attention. Media freedom and pluralism are seen in danger, sometimes caused by governmental control over media outlets. Regulations such as the European Media Freedom Act are being developed to protect editorial independence and make media ownership and concentration more transparent. At the same time, concerns over the dangers of digital platforms for human rights and democracies have become more nuanced, accompanied by instruments such as the European Democracy Action plan, the Code of Practice on Disinformation, and the Digital Services Act. Calls for a stronger regulation of social media and a human rights-based approach to content moderation have grown louder.

In two roundtables, we talk with our panellists about issues, legal instruments, and recommendations in the context of media freedom and human rights on digital platforms. Other participants will have the opportunity to contribute their own views and ask questions to the panellists. The roundtables will be preceded by the presentation of research from the EnTrust project on the role of media in the building of trust and distrust in governance.

You may find the full agenda of the online event here.



  • Welcome and introduction by:

Prof. Christian Lahusen, University of Siegen, Germany

  • Presentation of the Research Report on Trust and the Media: 

Prof. Hans-Jörg Trenz, Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy

  • First Roundtable: Protecting Media Freedom and Pluralism in Europe

Barbora Bukovská, Senior Director for Law and Policy, Article 19

Artemiza-Tatiana Chisca, Head of the Media and Internet Division, Council of Europe

Audrius Perkauskas, Deputy Head of Unit at the European Commission, Audiovisual and Media Services Policy (CNECT.I.1)

Renate Schroeder, Director, European Federation of Journalists

Moderated by Alexandrina Najmowicz, Secretary General, European Civic Forum

  • Second Roundtable: Digital Platforms and Human Rights: what is the Role of Regulation?

Marie-Hélène Boulanger, Head of Unit at the European Commission, Union Citizenship Rights and Free Movement (JUST.D.3)

Jan Penfrat, Senior Policy Advisor, European Digital Rights

Alberto Rabbachin, Deputy Head of Unit at the European Commission, Media Convergence and Social Media (CNECT.I.4)

Moderated by Marlena Wisniak, Senior Legal Consultant, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law

  • Closing and concluding Remarks:

Prof. Christian Lahusen, University of Siegen, Germany

“Social movements as Alternative Arenas of Political participation: Mobilising Citizens in the Re-creation of Trust and Distrust”

The EnTrust project invites you to an online roundtable event on 20 June 2022 from 16:00 to 17:30 (CET) with selected stakeholders from national and EU-level governance institutions, civil society and academia. Participants will discuss findings from the EnTrust project’s Integrated Report on the Role of Democratic Social movements, dealing with the role that social movements, as alternative arenas of political participation, could have in creating and reproducing trust and distrust. The report gathered information on the interaction and possible interplay between two recent and growing trends: citizens’ withdrawal from institutional political arenas and the rise of contemporary contentious politics manifested as increased participation of citizens in new social movement practices in the following countries: Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and Serbia, covering diverse mobilisations on democracy, environment, right to housing, rights of women and of minorities. The report provides better understanding of the social movements’ alternative visions of Europe – as a political and social space – and alternative ways of (re)building trust in its institutions. We also gathered insights into the way these social movements interrelate with more established mainstream civil society organisations (CSOs) and political parties and about their understanding of democracy.

The Expert roundtable will look into the relationship between mistrust in governance and collective mobilisation through social movements, as well as on the effects of social movements on trust-building. The rise of new social movements that mistrust institutional politics, but develop critical, enlightened trust through alternative conceptions of democracy and democratic spaces, in fact could be seen as an answer to the problem of the decline of political trust found in contemporary democracies. This debate is particularly timely in the context of the rise of new social movements within the political, social and environmental crisis that Europe is facing, and in the perspective of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe and debates on increasing citizen’s participation.

If you wish to participate in this event, please register directly here.



  • Welcome and introduction to the roundtable  by:

Prof. Christian Lahusen, University of Siegen, Germany

  • Presentation of the report on the role of democratic social movements in the formation of trust and distrust:  

Irena Fiket, Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory of the University of Belgrade, Serbia

  • Panel Discussion with:

Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament, Observer to the Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Anelia Stefanova, Energy Transformation Strategic Leader, CEE Bankwatch Network, Bankwatch CEE

Gordana Rammert, Council Member of the City of Bielefeld, CoR Young Elected Politicians Programme

Adrien Licha, Coordinator of the Brussels Office of ALDA, the European Association for Local Democracy

Alexandrina Najmowicz, Secretary General of the European Civic Forum

Gazela Pudar Draško, Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory of the University of Belgrade, Serbia

Moderated by Carlotta Besozzi, Coordinator of Civil Society Europe

  • Closing and final discussion on lessons to be drawn:

Prof. Christian Lahusen, University of Siegen, Germany

On 10 December 2021, EnTrust will hold an online expert meeting with selected stakeholders from public services, civil society and academia. Participants will discuss first findings from the EnTrust project on the mechanisms of building trust and distrust in relations between citizens and street-level bureaucracy in the area of support to disadvantaged families. In particular, they will address fresh insights from EnTrust research about how both public administration representatives and citizens who contact them when applying for family benefits or services establish their mutual attitudes of trust and distrust, and the reciprocal perceptions of un/trustworthiness at play. A special focus will be on practical and policy recommendations from the practitioners’ perspective. The debate will be opened with an introduction by the work package leader Maria Theiss, who will present key results from the analysis of individual in-depth interviews with frontline workers of social welfare institutions and citizens receiving social assistance in diverse countries such as the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and Serbia.

Maria Theiss, University of Warsaw,
Institute of Social Policy

On 30 November 2020, the University of Siegen and Civil Society Europe are organising an interactive online roundtable discussion with more than 30 participants (stakeholders from civil society, politicians, governance actors, journalists, media representatives and scientists) who discuss first findings from the EnTrust project and their implications, identify policy responses, ascertain remedial measures and practices, as well as potential implementation perspectives in the current policy context, including the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The University of Siegen in Germany and Civil Society Europe have the pleasure to invite you to an online round table event on 15 June 2020 from 9:30 to 11:30 to launch the project EnTrust – Enlightened Trust funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme . The event will be hosted by Vice President Dr. Katarina Barley and will include a high level panel with: the Director General of DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission, Jean Eric Paquet, and the following members of the European Parliament: Domenec Ruiz Devesa, Anna Donath, and Dr. Sergey Lagodinsky. The event will be moderated by Brikena Xhomaqi, Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform.

Please find here all authors’ biographies.