Our latest European Policy Briefs provide evidence-based policy recommendations and new insights about dis/trust contestation and building in the media and the role of disinformation and media freedom (European Policy Brief IV) and regarding the formation of (political) trust and distrust throughout different life stages, thus accounting for the developmental-psychological foundations of trust in governance (European Policy Brief V).

A Europe We Trust: visions of European youth

Are you a young person aged 13 – 19 and living in Europe? Do you have a vision for the future of Europe that you would like to share?

If so, take part in EnTrust’s creative contest, ‘A Europe We Trust: visions of European youth’.

What can I submit?

We accept submissions in a visual format – this could be a drawing, painting or photograph that represents your vision. If a visual submission is not accessible to you, we also accept written submissions like essays or opinion pieces.

What is the prize?

Winners will be invited to Brussels in January 2024 to attend an awards ceremony and visit the EU institutions.

What should my submission be about?

Your submission should be based on your vision for the future of Europe. You can use one or more of the below topics as inspiration:

  • Equality, Inclusiveness and Accessibility: How do you envision a more equal, inclusive and accessible Europe for young people?
  • Youth Participation, Representation and Open Dialogue in the EU: What would Europe look like with a more active role for young people in decision-making?
  • Sustainability, Climate Action and Empowerment of Rural Youth: How do you envision a future Europe in which all young people have a role in climate action and sustainability?
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing: What would Europe look like if it placed greater importance on mental health and wellbeing?
  • Access to Employment, Fair Working Conditions and a Living Wage: What would Europe be like if all young people could access the labour market, have fair working conditions and be paid a living wage?

Who can enter?

The contest is open to young people residing in any of the 27 EU Member States as well as EU candidate countries. You can enter either as an individual or in a group. Three winners will be selected and announced in November 2023.

The deadline for submissions is 31st October at 17:00 CET.

For more information about the submission guidelines and process, please consult the contest website. Feel free to email info@civilsocietyeurope.eu with any questions.

Watch a short video clip about the contest here:

For our International Conference “Trust and Distrust in Governance: Exploring the Impact of Social and Political Dynamics” at the University of Siena (Italy) from 28-29 September 2023, registration for conference observation is now open. Please register by sending an email to entrust@uni-siegen.de by 15 September 2023.

You may find more detailled information about the conference here.

In its European Policy Briefs, EnTrust addresses main findings of our research and provides evidence-based policy recommendations with regard to current policy debates relating to trust and distrust in governance, civil society, public spheres and the future of democracy in Europe. Lately, our European Policy Briefs dealt with dis/trust in direct relations between citizens and social welfare institutions and the role of democratic social movements in the formation of dis/trust in governance. All our European Policy Briefs are published in English and in the seven languages of our consortium. You may find them here.

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 – Siena, Italy

Abstract Submission Deadline: April 07, 2023

Find the full Call for Papers 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.

The Realm of Bureaucracy and the Creation of Dis/Trust 

Possible topics are, among others, the interplay between citizens and public authorities and how these shape the processes of dis/trust building, the role and the shape of the (welfare) state as well as the citizens’ perceptions and opinions about institutional services and institutions, dis/trust building in the context of vulnerable groups (such as disadvantaged families or social welfare users)

Protest, Political Contestation, and the Formation of Trust and Distrust 

The role of collective protest and social movements in the creation of dis/trust in governance can be expected to be significant. It needs to be considered in which ways democratic social movements canalise and mobilise forms of distrust within the general public in order to achieve policy changes. Those practices need to be focused that create, challenge, or reproduce trust and distrust relationships.

The Role of the Media in Dis/Trust Contestations 

The media plays a key role in the mediation between governance, scientific expertise, and citizens. Various issues can be addressed, such as dis/trust of citizens in journalism and news sources as well as the processes of how dis/trust is constructed in and through the media, the impact of different media technologies on dis/trust relations, dis/trust in times of “fake news” and “alternative facts”.

Dynamics of Individual Trust and Distrust in Governance

In order to understand processes of trust and distrust in governance, individual factors as well as underlying psychological sources and patterns need to be considered. For example, analyses might focus on the developmental changes in individual perceptions of dis/trust and the influences of everyday experiences on trust and distrust, as well as on factors responsible for the formation and change of trust related attitudes, among them political radicalisation and extremism.

Public Deliberations, Political Decision-Making, and Institutional Trust

Individual and collective trust and distrust in governance is strongly conditioned by the functioning of political institutions and the way democratic representation, accountability and participation is organised. It is thus of relevance to analyse the ways in which deliberative forums, public consultations and other participative forms of decision-making influence – next to institutional procedures of policy-making and implementation – dis/trust relationships, on the domestic or European level.

Scope and Aims

During the two-day conference two distinguished experts, Pippa Norris (Harvard University) and Tereza Capelos (University of Birmingham), will hold keynote speeches. Additionally, different panels will be held to present and discuss ongoing research on the various topics and questions identified above.

Please note, that the conference will be organised as an in-person event. After years of online-meetings and conferences because of the Covid pandemic, we very much look forward to interacting with colleagues face-to-face and to reinforce and rebuild links in the community.

We envision the conference to be an inclusive platform, where findings and discussions of the EnTrust project are brought into dialogue with the work of a variety of researchers with different backgrounds. By means of an interactive debate and lively exchange, we hope to gain further insights into different arenas of trust formation as well as into the forms, conditions and implications of trust and distrust in democratic governance. With respect to the composition and aim of the EnTrust project, the conference will strive to combine insights from sociology, psychology, political sciences, and media studies.

Paper Submissions

Researchers from all disciplines indicated above are invited to submit abstracts for talks as of now. We are particularly interested in empirical-driven proposals using a quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods approach.

To submit a paper proposal, we ask for title and abstract (300 words maximum). All abstracts must be written in English. All proposals should be submitted by April 07, 2023. Acceptance mails will be sent by May 06, 2023.

It is an option to participate in a conference poster session as well. The poster session will provide an opportunity for those authors who cannot be considered for a talk. Instead, they will be able to present and discuss the results and conclusions of their papers in small groups. Please indicate in your submission, whether you are interested in this option.

Submissions from young scholars are highly welcomed as well. We can provide a limited number of travel fellowships for (junior) scholars with lack of funding support.


Please send your submission to entrust@uni-siegen.de

For more information about the EnTrust research network and their more than 30 researchers: https://entrust-project.eu

The EnTrust project has published its first European Policy Brief on the theoretical and normative underpinnings of trust and distrust in governance.

Based on the findings of its preliminary research on the state of scientific research on trust and distrust in governance and a policy dialogue organised last June on trust and distrust at EU level, the policy brief explores current challenges and perspectives on EU Governance. These include: a decline in the rule of law and increased corruption in some EU countries affecting the freedom of the media and the capacity of civil society organisations to hold their government accountable, the impact of Covid 19 pandemic on governance, increased polarisation in our societies, spreading of fake news and unethical behaviour in science.

In order to respond to the challenges that our society faces, which undermine trust in governance, we believe that the European Union has to build a new narrative of ownership and civic participation grounded in fundamental rights. Europe needs to nurture and develop a culture of participation where citizens are recognised as equal partners of institutions, and an effective civil dialogue is promoted in all the different areas of policy and legislative action, and at transversal level. Being able to express concerns and proposals, as well as learning from the perspectives of policy makers and other stakeholders, also contributes to a sense of ownership and responsibility, and ultimately a sense of trust.

Critical citizenship, free and independent media, effective rule of law are an essential prerequisite of fully-functioning democracies. What is thus required is a narrative that highlights the complementarity of enlightened trust and distrust, which are based on principles of active and critical citizenship, political deliberation and decision-making.

The new narrative has to stress that enlightened forms of trust involve reciprocal involvement of both citizens and political institutions, which in turn become the subject and object of trust. Additionally, other actors such as the media, social partners, civil society, experts and science contribute as mediators in the development of trust and distrust relations.

Furthering enlightened forms of trust implies advocating for a participatory and critical approach from the grassroots level up to the arena of the European Union. This is ever more relevant in the context of the upcoming conference on the Future of Europe and of the adoption of a European Democracy Action Plan.

The Policy Brief identifies 6 key steps in order to promote and implement participation and ownership in political governance.

Read here our first European Policy Brief.

To learn more about the project, we invite you to have a look at the project presentation by coordinator Christian Lahusen on the occasion of the online round table debate “Trust and Distrust in Governance: What is at Stake” on 15 June 2020.

Our online round table debate on Trust and Distrust in Governance: What is at Stake? is now published in full lenght on our EnTrust project YouTube channel.

The event was hosted by Katarina Barley, Vice President of the European Parliament, and included a high level panel with the Director General of DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission, Jean Eric Paquet, the following members of the European Parliament: Domenec Ruiz Devesa, Anna Donath and Sergey Lagodinski, and EnTrust project coordinator Christian Lahusen. The event was moderated by Brikena Xhomaqi, Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform.

For more information, please visit the following websites: EnTrust events and Civil Society Europe events.