1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND
The Preparatory Action Media Literacy for All (2018-20) responds to the societal challenge of improving media literacy of citizens of all ages in the Member States of the European Union. This is the last annual call for this Preparatory Action. "Media literacy" is an umbrella expression that includes all technical, cognitive, social, civic and creative capacities that allow citizens to access the media, to have a critical understanding of it and to interact with it. All these capacities enable citizens to participate fully 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 sense, including all kind of media such as television, radio, online and printed press, digital news outlets, search engines and social media platforms.
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, a competitive, pluralistic and independent media sector providing reliable information, as well as trustworthy social media and search engines as key information suppliers. Media and digital literacy are key competences in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex media landscape. Citizens and in particular young people access news through social media and other online platforms, in addition to traditional media channels. This access to the new media is becoming more and more interactive, immersive and collaborative as citizens are increasingly becoming content creators and co-creators. Media and digital literacy skills help media users to understand how media contents are produced, shared and disseminated. These skills enable them to think critically and to assess the trustworthiness of information shared through social media, as well as to act responsibly when creating and sharing information.
Ability to think critically is paramount as social media users are exposed to various kinds of disinformation from "clickbait" news to disinformation campaigns propagated by foreign and/or domestic actors that may affect electoral processes and policymaking. Moreover, findability of content online depends on algorithms using one’s personal data in ways that may not be understandable or transparent. In a digital information space where online and social media play crucial roles, citizens need to be equipped with the necessary skills to fully understand the mechanisms that shape online interactions amongst users, to be able to take part in the public discourse in a critical and meaningful way. The European Commission Communication’s 'Tackling online disinformation: a European Approach'1 elucidates the role that media literacy may play to effectively address the challenges posed by disinformation.
The fact that media users have become content creators on social media platforms has led to wider opportunities for democratic participation but has also shown the need for a responsible use of such opportunities, including the ability to think critically and assess the trustworthiness of information shared through social media. Media literacy skills are therefore crucial in fostering civic behaviour in online environments.
The COVID19 pandemic has induced a mass transition from off-line to on-line professional and personal relations. Schools, universities and work places, hobbies, sports and social events have all found online solutions or proxies to cope with physical confinement measures. Social media and videoconferencing tools have proven their role as key channels of communication and information.
In this new context, the overwhelming role of social media and online applications have further illustrated the need for media and digital literacy for all citizens, irrespective of their age or geographic location.
The works already carried out by projects under the previous calls of the Preparatory Action as well as those deriving from its Pilot Project phase calls of ‘Media Literacy for All’ program, have created a basis on which to build further media literacy actions, across cultural and linguistic borders is feasible. It is now essential to build bridges across previous experiences and, basing on the work done, to continue develop best practices through new projects under the Media Literacy for All initiative. It is also important to take into account the continuously developing digital landscape, with novel methods and tools requiring advanced media and digital literacy skills, such as the use of VR, AR or immersive technologies, or the increasing roles of algorithms and Artificial Intelligence on which much of modern communication is based.
Preparatory action 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/2020/2259 of 20/04/2020.
2. OBJECTIVE(S) – THEME(S) – PRIORITIES
2.1. General objectives
The general objectives of this Call are to a) increase the level of media literacy in Europe; b) to assess the scalability, sustainability and adaptability across linguistic, state or cultural borders of the actions developed through the earlier Calls of the Preparatory Action Media Literacy for All; and c) to pursue further methodological innovation and collaboration across media literacy communities within the European Union.
Media literacy practitioners should develop innovative strategies to inform citizens of the issues arising from disinformation and to promote a responsible use of communication channels offered by social media. To achieve this goal, the EU encourages effective cooperation among educational institutions, civil society organisations, media, independent fact-checkers, media literacy organisations and online platforms to provide educational and training materials to school teachers and educators in out-of-school contexts, following the “train the trainers” approach. 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. The outcome of this cooperation should be that citizens of all ages can become more familiar with the online world, acquire a better perception of trustworthiness of online information, learn to use tools to tackle disinformation and to adopt a responsible online behaviour that do not cause harm to other users and to society.
The proposed projects are encouraged to exploit the concrete results from the previous projects funded through this preparatory action and identify possibilities for scaled up, sustainable and cross-border projects, with a potential for increase in impact on intended audiences or target groups. The proposed projects should prove their ability to draw lessons from existing best practices while increasing their reach across borders, cultures and linguistic areas. The aim is to encourage projects with a wide geographical coverage, with a particular focus on demographic segments of the populations and/or on geographic or social environments with lower level of media literacy skills.
2.2. Specific objectives
In view of the challenges detailed above, this Call aims at promoting media literacy education by fostering innovative practices and the development of appropriate educational materials and/or services, with a focus on “training the trainers” and an aim to:
Identify and catalogue techniques commonly used by malicious actors to create, distribute and amplify online disinformation, including the newest forms of manipulation of communication technologies;
Catalogue and design/repurpose for wider sharing relevant educational materials in collaboration, where appropriate, with civil society and media organisations, online platforms, fact-checkers and/or academic researchers with a specific expertise in communication sciences, psychology, sociology, cognitive sciences or other relevant academic fields;
Develop tools based on innovative pedagogic approaches, including gaming, creative uses of videoconferencing and other remote learning methodologies, to be used by trained teachers and educators for media literacy training;
Develop educational modules targeted at different age, linguistic and/or cultural groups, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable segments of the population, to be used by trained teachers and educators;
Design and deliver appropriate, replicable trainings/training materials to school teachers and/or educators active in out-of-school contexts including by innovative means such as those developed in the third bullet point above;
Develop 1-2 use-cases on sharing of best practices among trainers of targeted communities;
Contribute to fostering a media literacy ecosystem based on shared best practices across linguistic and cultural borders, including through the creation of, and/or collaboration with, open educational repositories.
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 legal entities from more than 3 different Member States will be prioritized in the selection process.
Proposals should foresee a mid-term report and a final report.
The indicative schedule for the different steps and stages of the selection procedure are as follows:
(a) Publication of the call
22 June 2020
(b) Deadline for submitting applications
(c) Evaluation period
Q4 2020/ Q1 2021
(d) Information to applicants
(e) Signature of grant agreement(s)
(f) Start date of the project
Latest by end March 2021
The proposed maximum duration of the project is 12 months.
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 of 2 - 5 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 and in electronic form (pdf) (see section 14), using the application form available at
− drafted in one of the EU official languages3.
3 In order to speed the evaluation process and the award of funds, proposals must be drafted preferably in English.
Failure to comply with those requirements will lead to rejection of the application.
6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
6.1. Eligible applicants
The call is open to:
• A grouping of entities (consortia).
Proposals may be submitted by any of the following applicants or combinations of:
− non-profit organisation (private or public);
− public authorities (national, regional, local);
− international organisations;
− educational institutions;
− research centres,
− profit making entities, e.g. media organisations.
Natural persons are not eligible.
General notice for UK applicants: In conformity with the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement4, the UK and persons or entities established in the UK continue to be eligible to receive Union funds under actions carried out in direct, indirect or shared management, which implement Union programmes and activities committed under the MFF 2014-2020 until the closure of those Union programmes and activities. When restrictions apply, these will be clearly specified in the call for proposals.
Entities affiliated5 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;
− In order to be eligible, a proposal must be submitted by a consortium composed of legal entities from at least 3 different Member States taking the geographical balance into consideration. This preparatory action aims at supporting sustainable cross-border co-operation and actions.
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.
Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community
In order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following supporting documents are requested (refer to “Checklist” at the end of the Grant application form for format and support):
Examples of supporting documents:
− 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.
6.2. Eligible activities
The actions proposed should have clearly defined objectives to advance/target specific areas/goals within the field of media literacy. They should target citizens of all ages and propose an adequate mixture of tools and activities to achieve those objectives.
The following types of activities are eligible under this call for proposals:
(1) Creation of multilingual on-line material including fact-checked news repositories and interactive educational tools to improve the capacities of citizens to acquire a critical understanding of and ability to interact with the media and social media. Such actions should involve cooperation with relevant community organisations such as libraries, media outlets, online platforms, media literacy organisations, fact-checking and/or academic bodies with specific expertise on disinformation;
(2) Development of applications, tools and innovative methodologies to raise awareness about the danger of receiving and propagating disinformation, promote the use of fact- checking services and the reporting by social media users of possible instances of disinformation;
(3) Promotion of social media campaigns and other relevant activities aimed at helping citizens to interact with digital media in a critically evaluative way (e.g. citizens’ participation in debunking, etc.), deconstruct media communication and distinguish information from propaganda;
(4) Identification of best practice and efficient dissemination of the material created by the project. This can be achieved through the building of networks of practitioners who can act as multipliers of best practice;
(5) Community-led activities to tailor and make accessible the above-mentioned tools and materials to minorities, low-skilled people, digital immigrants (50+), immigrants or refugees, or people at risk of being socially marginalised.
(6) Training activities focused on media literacy practices, tools or materials addressed to trainers, educators and teachers, including sharing of best practices across linguistic, state and cultural borders.
6.3 Implementation period
The suggested start date of the project is latest by end March 2021 The proposed maximum duration of the project is 12 months.