COHESIFY investigates whether the performance of the EU’s flagship development policy, the Cohesion policy, influences how people see the EU. The project will select contrasting regions in ten countries to test the importance of the visibility in spending, the extent of local control over selecting priorities and beneficiaries, the significance of political affiliations and the impact of weak performance such as the low absorption rates found all too often in new member states. The project will compare the positions of insiders, such as program designers and administrators, with applicants and beneficiaries, such as local authorities, private companies and civic groups. These can then be compared with the views of the general public in the selected areas, whose views will be sought through analysis of national and local media reports, social media discussions, and complemented with representative surveys, interviews and focus groups.
After a critical assessment of the current state of conceptual and methodological knowledge, the project will produce an analytical model for exploring the link between policy implementation, communication and citizen perception. The project will examine the regional variation in perceptions of relevance of EU policies across the European Union and over time, analyzing how performance is understood by local authorities, companies, civil society groups and individual citizens and how these various understandings influence local support for and identification with the EU.
Aside from a thorough examination of the actual impacts of cohesion policy spending, the work will also produce a comprehensive evaluation of EU Cohesion policy communication channels and initiatives targeting the public, leading to policy recommendations for adapting communication strategies at EU, national and regional levels.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No. 693427. This communication reflects the views of the CPS only and the Research Executive Agency cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.