Activity: Participating in or organising an event › Participation in workshop, seminar, course
Not for Love, nor Money: Exploring the Regional Variation in EU Identification in Central and Europe. Debate at the workshop 'Reforming the EU: Central European Perspectives' organised by the Hungarian Europe Society.
EU Cohesion Policy, supporting a variety of projects that support regional economic development and contribute to betterment of quality of life, can be considered as a tool that is contributing to the development of a ‘sense of community’ among the EU citizens and shaping the perceptions of the EU. By investing funding into concrete projects across the European territory the policy is not only a direct and tangible expression of European solidarity, but also the EU’s activity that probably has the most direct impact on people’s daily lives and their environment. Whether and how exactly EU Cohesion Policy actually affects what people think about the EU remains unclear, particularly at the regional level where the policy has the most direct and palpable effects. This paper, drawing on the research conducted as part of Horizon 2020 COHESIFY project, addresses this knowledge gap with a specific focus on the impacts of EU Cohesion Policy on the perceptions of the European integration project in Central and Eastern Member States. This focus is particularly relevant given that those countries are the main beneficiaries of this policy, being relatively less developed than the countries with a longer tenure in the EU. At the same many of the countries of this region are experiencing tumultuous political developments tilting the governmental discourse towards skeptical or even hostile positions towards European integration, which is not necessarily in line with the citizens’ views on the EU as gauged in the opinion polls. The study, firstly, explores how EU image (utilitarian component, concerning the views on what the EU actually does) and attachment to EU (an affective component, concerning sentiments and attachment) vary across the differentiated regional contexts of these countries, identifying clusters of regions with similar patterns. Drawing on these two components and the available Eurobarometer surveys, the paper proposes a regional EU identification index. Secondly, the study applies regression analysis to investigate the regional factors determining regional EU identification, from territorial characteristics, governance features to socio-economic variables and EU Cohesion Policy eligibility. By doing so the paper sheds light on the still unchartered territory of the regional dimension of EU identification in Central and Eastern Europe, while providing new insights on the role of Cohesion Policy in this respect.