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Media Literacy for All - Connect/Ares(2018)6427819
Deadline: 28 Feb 2019   - 39 days

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 Single Market
 Citizenship
 Arts Education
 Culture and Development
 Digital Culture
 Film and Media
 Literature
 New Media
 Article Writing
 Social and Welfare

1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND

This preparatory action responds to the societal importance of improving media literacy of citizens of all ages in the Member States of the European Union. "Media literacy" is an umbrella expression that includes all technical, cognitive, social, civic and creative capacities that allow a citizen to access the media, to have a critical understanding of the media and to interact with it. All these capacities enable citizens to participate in the economic, social and cultural aspects of society, as well as to play an active role in the democratic processes. "Media" is to be understood in a broad way, including all kind of media (television, radio, press, digital information outlets) and through all kinds of channels (off line and online).

In a digital information space where new media and social media play a crucial role, citizens need to be continuously empowered with the necessary skills to take part in public life in a real and meaningful way. The European Commission Communication 'Tackling online disinformation: a European Approach'1 elucidates the role that media literacy may play to effectively address the challenges posed by disinformation.

Media literacy is intrinsic to a healthy democracy. Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union states that the Union is founded on the value of democracy, which by definition, requires the participation of well-informed citizens as well as a competitive, pluralistic and independent media sector. Media literacy is a necessary response to a changing and increasingly complex media landscape where the pace of change is dictated by the digital revolution and by a transformation in citizens' behaviour and attitude. Citizens, and in particular young people increasingly access news through social media and other online platforms, rather than through traditional channels. In addition, citizens are increasingly content creators and co-creators on social media platforms. They require some knowledge of how the media, in particular digital media work, and how media messages are produced, shared and disseminated so quickly in the online environment. These social media users are exposed to much content of questionable accuracy, including conspiracy theories, clickbait, hyper partisan content, pseudo- science and even fabricated reports and criminal activity for financial or political gain. This is, in one word: disinformation. Moreover, access to content is determined by the use of algorithms and personal data in ways that may not be transparent to users.

Citizens are increasingly content creators and co-creators on social media platforms. This creates opportunities for democratic participation but also requires the ability to think critically and assess the trustworthiness of information shared through social media. Disinformation has become a serious threat to our societies and requires specific media literacy initiatives to develop appropriate educational responses. Disinformation covers many different types of content like "clickbait" advertising, or disinformation campaigns propagated by foreign or domestic actors to create confusion in the public discourse for political aims. These forms of disinformation may affect electoral processes and policy making by undermining citizens' trust in institutions and the media.

There are further concerns that social media is creating echo chambers or filter bubbles, potentially reducing the scope for cross-cutting debate in the public sphere.

Finally, social media exchanges sometimes feature trolling, ad hominem attacks and hate speech. Therefore, media literacy has also a role to play in this respect by fostering responsible behaviour online.

Media literacy practitioners need to develop innovative strategies to inform citizens of the issues arising from disinformation. To achieve this goal, the EU encourages effective cooperation among educational institutions, civil society organisations, media, and independent fact-checkers to provide educational and training materials to schools and educators. This is expressly mentioned in the section '3.3.Fostering education and media literacy' (p.13) of the EC's 'Communication on Tackling online disinformation'2.

Legal Basis

Preparatory action – 'Media Literacy for all' within the meaning of Article 58(2)(b) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 (OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1).

The annual work programme was adopted under Commission Decision C/2018/834 of 22/10/2018.

 

2. OBJECTIVES – ACTIVITIES – PRIORITIES

1.1 General objectives

The general objective of the preparatory action is to build on the achievements of the previous pilot projects and to test the scalability and usefulness of the actions developed in their context.

1.2 Specific objectives

In view of the challenges detailed above, this call aims at promoting education in this complex field by fostering the development of new educational materials and/or services built on concrete instances of disinformation. A further objective is to design methods to raise awareness about the techniques commonly used by malicious actors to create, distribute and amplify disinformation via the internet. Such educational materials should take into account the various features of the different online platforms and social media services by presenting special cases and examples of manipulative techniques currently in use. These educational materials and/or services should also include empirical surveys. From a methodological point of view, the proposals should distinguish between those actions targeting pupils and those for teachers and present differentiated approaches for each target group. The collection of relevant input for the preparation of educational and training materials should involve the active participation of relevant civil society organisations, media, fact-checkers and/or academic researchers with a specific expertise in disinformation.

1.3 Description of the activities to be funded:

Types of activities eligible under this call for proposals are specified in section 6.2. 'Eligible activities'.

The proposals should demonstrate how the tools and activities proposed may directly or indirectly benefit the target group of citizens of all ages lacking media literacy skills and in particular the skills needed to critically evaluate content accessed via social media.

Proposals should contain a risk analysis regarding implementation including details about how the risks identified would be addressed.

Proposals should also provide an assessment of, and a plan for, the sustainability of the action(s) after the end of the project.

Proposals of consortia of more than three legal entities from different Member States will be prioritized in the selection process.

 

3. TIMETABLE

The indicative schedule for the different steps and stages of the selection procedure are as follows:

a) Publication of the call

Q4 2018

b) Deadline for submitting applications

28. February 2019

c) Evaluation period

Q1-Q2 2019

d) Information to applicants

Q2 2019

e) Signature of grant agreement

Q2 2019

Scheduled start date for the action: as soon as possible upon signature of grant agreement but not later than by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2019.

 

4. BUDGET AVAILABLE

The total budget earmarked for the co-financing of projects under this call for proposals is € 500.000 (five hundred-thousand euros).

Depending on the quality of the proposals, the Commission expects to fund up to 4 projects.

The EU co-financing is limited to a maximum co-funding rate of 60% of the total eligible costs.

The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.

 

5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

In order to be admissible, applications must be:

  •   sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3;

  •   submitted in writing (see section 14), using the application form available at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/news-redirect/639853 and its electronic version (the file) on an USB flash/pen drive.

  •   drafted in one of the EU official languages.
    Failure to comply with those requirements will lead to rejection of the application.

 

6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

6.1. Eligible applicants

Proposals may be submitted by any of the following applicants:

  •   non-profit organisation (private or public) e.g. association, foundation, trade union, etc;

  •   public authorities (national, regional, local);

  •   international organisations;

  •   universities;

  •   educational institutions;

  •   research centres;

  •   profit making entities, e.g. media organisations.

 

Natural persons are not eligible.

For British applicants: please, be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article II.17.3 of the grant agreement.

Affiliated entities

Entities affiliated3 to the applicants are not eligible to receive funding under this Call for proposals. They may take part in the action as affiliated entities at their own costs only.

Country of establishment

Only applications from legal entities established in the following countries are eligible:  EU Member States.

Consortium requirements

In order to be eligible, a proposal must be submitted by a consortium composed of at least 3 legal entities from at least 3 Member States taking the geographical balance into consideration.

Supporting documents

In order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following supporting documents are requested:

  • private entity: extract from the official journal, copy of articles of association, extract of trade or association register, certificate of liability to VAT (if, as in certain countries, the trade register number and VAT number are identical, only one of these documents is required);
  • public entity: copy of the resolution, decision or other official document establishing the public-law entity ;
  • entities without legal personality: documents providing evidence that their representative(s) have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf.

Eligible activities

The actions proposed should have clearly defined objective(s) to advance/target specific area(s)/goal(s) within the field of media literacy. They should propose an adequate mixture of tools and activities to achieve those objectives.

The following types of activities are eligible under this call for proposals:

In accordance with Article 187 FR, entities that satisfy the eligibility criteria and that do not fall within one of the situations referred to in Articles 136(1) and 141(1) FR and that have a link with the applicant, in particular a legal or capital link, which is neither limited to the action nor established for the sole purpose of its implementation, will be considered as entities affiliated to the applicant.

(1) creation of multilingual on-line material and interactive tools to improve the capacities of citizens to acquire a critical understanding of the media in particular content accessed via social media and to interact with it, and that of the challenges posed by disinformation. To this end such actions should include cooperation with relevant NGOs, media, fact-checking and/or academic researchers with specific expertise on disinformation;

(2) awareness-raising of citizens to use the services of fact-checkers;

(3) any other relevant innovative activities that can develop citizens' ability to distinguish information from propaganda, to deconstruct media communication or any other capacity related to critical thinking towards the media;

(4) awareness-raising and efficient dissemination of the material created by the project or other similar material/activities that can be adapted to the same purpose, in particular through networks that can act as multipliers;

(5) efficient dissemination of best practice, for instance through conferences, workshops, on-line platforms and/or training programmes;

(6) activities with local communities or networks to tailor and make accessible some of the above tools to minorities, low-skilled people, digital immigrants (50+) or people at risk of being socially marginalised.

(7) social media campaigns aimed at helping citizens to interact with new media in a critically evaluative way.

The actions proposed should target citizens of all ages, with a particular focus on minorities, low-skilled people and those at risk of being socially marginalised.

Implementation period

The maximum duration of projects is 12 months.

Applications for projects scheduled to run for a longer period than that specified in this call for proposals will not be accepted.

 

7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA

7.1. Exclusion from participation

The authorising officer shall exclude an applicant from participating in call for proposals procedures where:

  1. (a)  the applicant is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, it is in an arrangement with creditors, its business activities are suspended, or it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under EU or national laws or regulations;

  2. (b)  it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the applicable law;

  3. (c)  ithasbeenestablishedbyafinaljudgmentorafinaladministrativedecisionthatthe applicant is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:

  4. (i)  fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of eligibility or selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;

  5. (ii)  entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;

  6. (iii)  violating intellectual property rights;

  7. (iv)  attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Commission during the award procedure;

  8. (v)  attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;

  9. (d)  it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:

    1. (i)  fraud, within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;

    2. (ii)  corruption, as defined in Article 4(2) of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 or Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, or conduct referred to in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, or corruption as defined in the applicable law;

    3. (iii)  conduct related to a criminal organisation, as referred to in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;

    4. (iv)  money laundering or terrorist financing within the meaning of Article 1(3), (4) and (5) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council;

    5. (v)  terrorist offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;

    6. (vi)  child labour or other offences concerning trafficking in human beings as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;

  10. (e)  theapplicanthasshownsignificantdeficienciesincomplyingwithmainobligations in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision financed by the Union's budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an authorising officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;

  11. (f)  it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that the applicant has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95;

  12. (g)  It has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that the applicant has created an entity in a different jurisdiction with the intent to circumvent fiscal, social or any other legal obligations of mandatory application in the jurisdiction of its registered office, central administration or principal place of business;

  13. (h)  it has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that an entity has been created with the intent referred to in point (g);

  14. (i)  for the situations referred to in points (c) to (h) above, the applicant is subject to:

    1. (i)  facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by European Public Prosecutor's Office after its establishment, the Court of Auditors, the European Anti-Fraud Office or the internal auditor, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;

    2. (ii)  non-final judgments or non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;

    3. (iii)  facts referred to in decisions of persons or entities being entrusted with EU budget implementation tasks;

    4. (iv)  information transmitted by Member States implementing Union funds;

    5. (v)  decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of Union competition law or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law; or

    6. (vi)  decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.

7.2. Remedial measures

If an applicant declares one of the situations of exclusion listed above (see section 7.4), it must indicate the measures it has taken to remedy the exclusion situation, thus demonstrating its reliability. This may include e.g. technical, organisational and personnel measures to correct the conduct and prevent further occurrence, compensation of damage or payment of fines or of any taxes or social security contributions. The relevant documentary evidence which illustrates the remedial measures taken must be provided in annex to the declaration. This does not apply for situations referred in point (d) of section 7.1.

7.3. Rejection from the call for proposals

The authorising officer shall not award a grant to an applicant who:

  1. (a)  is in an exclusion situation established in accordance with section 7.1; or

  2. (b)  has misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the procedure or has failed to supply that information; or

  3. (c)  was previously involved in the preparation of documents used in the award procedure where this entails a breach of the principle of equal treatment, including distortion of competition, that cannot be remedied otherwise.

Administrative sanctions (exclusion) may be imposed on applicants, or affiliated entities where applicable, if any of the declarations or information provided as a condition for participating in this procedure prove to be false.

 

7.4. Supporting documents

Applicants must provide a declaration on their honour certifying that they are not in one of the situations referred to in Articles 136(1) and 141 FR, by filling in the relevant form attached to the application form accompanying the call for proposals and available at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/news-redirect/639853 .

This obligation may be fulfilled in one of the following ways:

  1. (i)  the coordinator of a consortium signs a declaration on behalf of all applicants; OR

  2. (ii)  each applicant in the consortium signs a declaration in its name; OR

  3. (iii)  each applicant in the consortium sign a separate declaration in their own name.

 

8. SELECTION CRITERIA

8.1. Financial capacity

Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the duration of the grant and to participate in its funding. The applicants' financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:

a) Low value grants (≤ EUR 60 000):
 a declaration on their honour.

b) Grants > EUR 60 000:
 a declaration on their honour

AND

  •   the profit and loss account as well as the balance sheet for the last financial year for which the accounts were closed;

  •   for newly created entities: the business plan might replace the above documents;

  •   the table with the financial figures provided for in Annex to the application form, filled in with the relevant statutory accounting figures.

    In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above thresholds apply to each applicant.

    On the basis of the documents submitted, if the Responsible Authorising Officer (RAO) of the Commission considers that financial capacity is weak, the Commission may:

  •   request further information;

  •   decide not to give pre-financing;

  •   decide to give pre-financing paid in instalments;

  •   decide to give pre-financing covered by a bank guarantee (see section 11.7.2 below);

  •   where applicable, require the joint and several financial liability of all the co- beneficiaries.

 

If the RAO considered that the financial capacity is insufficient the Commission will reject the application.

8.2. Operational capacity

Applicants must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed action. Moreover, applicants must demonstrate the ability to attract staff members with proven expertise in the media literacy sector and in the media sector.

In this respect, applicants have to submit a declaration on their honour, and the following supporting documents:

  • curriculum vitae or description of the profile of the people primarily responsible for managing and implementing the operation (accompanied where appropriate, like in the field of research and education, by a list of relevant publications);
  • the organisation's activity reports;
  • an exhaustive lists of previous projects and activities performed and connected to the policy field of the call or to the actions to be carried out.


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