Challenges for Europe

For some years now, Europe has been facing a number of serious challenges which cause severe frictions among European states and can only be addressed collectively. Among them are economic crises, social inequality, migration, populism and nationalism, the erosion of democracy, disinformation, terrorism, and cyber security.

In light of these challenges, the Foundation encourages researchers to develop research-based impulses for future cooperation within Europe. It wants to stimulate basic research on issues affecting Europe and the European Union, encourage comparative studies, and strengthen academic collaboration among European scholars. For this call the Foundation is looking for curiosity-driven projects on challenges that have not been addressed yet and are just emerging (for previously funded projects see the project-persons-search).

Scope of Funding

The call targets scholars in the humanities, social and cultural sciences. Funding can be provided for the constitution of European research groups comprising up to five principal investigators (PIs) from at least three different European countries. The main applicant needs to be affiliated with a German university or research institution. A collaboration with researchers from Southern and Eastern Europe is particularly desirable. The scientific qualification of young scholars has to be a central element of each research project.

The requirements for the call are currently being revised, information will follow in Spring 2021. Applications must be submitted via the electronic application system of the Volkswagen Foundation.


In light of numerous crises within Europe in the past years, there have been two calls by the Volkswagen Foundation with the topic "Challenges for Europe" in 2017 and 2018 (in 2018 together with the Italian foundation Compagnia di San Paolo and the Danish Carlsberg Foundation). This year the initiative "Challenges for Europe" is solely organized by the Volkswagen Foundation.

Application date
4 ans maximum
Social sciences