Building: VMP 8 Floor: 2 Room: 212
This panel is designed to shed new light on the relationship between EU Cohesion policy and citizens’ attitudes to, and identification, with the European Union. While scholarship on political behaviour and collective identity in the EU has a long tradition, and has increased salience following the rise of nationalist and anti-EU sentiment across many parts of Europe in the post-crisis era, there remains a lack of robust knowledge about how specific EU policies impact on citizens’ European attitudes and identity, especially at the subnational level. In principle, Cohesion policy is ideally placed to bring the EU closer to citizens, being the most explicit expression of EU solidarity, its visible impact on people’s daily lives through investment in infrastructure, business development and training, and a pioneering multilevel governance model of implementation that encourages local and civic engagement. Yet, there are unanswered questions about the extent of knowledge and awareness of the policy and its benefits among citizens, what drives and hinders public support for solidarity and cohesion, how it is communicated in the media and translated into attitudes to and identification with the EU across regions and localities.
Against this background, this panel bring together academics from the first two major, EU-funded Horizon 2020 projects (COHESIFY and PERCEIVE) investigating the impact of Cohesion policy on public support for and identification with the EU. To what extent and how does Cohesion policy impact on public support for and identification with the EU? What are the determinants of citizens’ support for EU solidarity or redistribution? How is Cohesion policy represented in the media, and what are the implications for European identity? In addressing these questions, the panel also aims to compare conceptual approaches, methodologies and empirical findings from two sets of original survey data and of news media representations of Cohesion policy collected independently by each project. Beyond advancing theory and empirical research, the papers have important policy implications that are particularly relevant in a post-crisis era where EU institutions have pledged to reconnect with citizens.