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Perception and Evaluation of Regional and Cohesion policies by Europeans and Identification with the Values of Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PERCEIVE (Perception and Evaluation of Regional and Cohesion policies by Europeans and Identification with the Values of Europe)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2019-08-31

The PERCEIVE project aims at mapping and explaining inter- and intra-regional variations in:
1) the experiences and results of cohesion policy implementation;
2) citizens’ awareness and appreciation of EU efforts for delivering cohesion;
3) citizens’ identification with the EU.

In doing so PERCEIVE worked at developing a comprehensive theory of European regional “cohesion in diversity” to better understand how the European policy and its local implementation experiences contribute to create different (i) local understandings of the EU and (ii) levels of European identification across profoundly different European regions.
In sum, we suggest that PERCEIVE fulfilled its purpose.
Research in work package 1 depicts a rich picture of the experiences and results of cohesion policy implementation in the sampled regions, whereas the survey conducted in D1.2 provided a precise map of the state of EU citizens’ awareness and appreciation of Cohesion policy.
In WP2, the IdentEU model, based on a novel methodological approach based on Hierarchical Latent Class Analysis, fosters the creation of a culture of quantitative assessment of citizens’ perception and identification with the European project, and its heterogeneous drivers.
The research activities carried out under WP3 analysed the connection between communication of the policy, on the one hand, and awareness of the policy itself as well as appreciation of the EU on the other hand. Our inquiry particularly emphasized the role played by new media and social networks.
Work package 4 analysed the interaction between Cohesion Policy and Rural, Development and Agricultural Policy and contributes to a better understanding of how EU policies are interacting each other.
Work package WP5 investigated citizens’ European identification in relation to local representation of cohesion policy in the media.
Finally, the outcome of work package 6 is a computer model that simulates the implementation and communication of cohesion policy.
Researchers used the computer model to produce hypotheses on the determinants of different longitudinal paths of fund absorption and awareness.
The work carried out in work package 1 made available for the scientific community a rich body of data collected in different ways: case studies and survey.
A key output of work package 2 is the IdentEU model that supports the clustering of citizens and regions according to their level of identification with the European project. The resulting taxonomy will support academics and non-academic stakeholders to better understanding the influencing factors.
In work package 3, we provided a number of recommendations on how to communicate cohesion policy.
The outputs of work package 4 will contribute to get a better understanding of how EU policies are interacting each other.
The research work conducted in work package 5 contributed to connect the analysis of local (national) structures of meaning to identification.
As for work package 6, the development, of a computer model that simulates the implementation and communication of cohesion policy allowed an in-depth analysis of the web of interweaved processes that underpin cohesion fund allocation and absorption.

To disseminate our findings we held two international conferences in which we communicated our research outcomes and policy implications to LMAs; in both conferences, DG REGIO actively participated as speakers. In addition, in Brussels, we carried out a number of personal meetings in order to disseminate our work to policy makers.
Furthermore, through targeted networking activity, we created a platform of dialogue with DG Regio and Cohesion Policy Communicators Network. As a result of our networking activities, we have been invited to present the results of research activities in work package 3 at the Network of Communication officers for regional policy (INIO-INFORM) held in Mons in December 2017. Results have also been presented in the Austrian region Burgenland (26-09-2018). In addition, an ongoing dialogue has been established with policy practitioners and especially those in charge of communicating the policy, culminated in INIO-INFORM organizers inviting two presentations of PERCEIVE results. These events are the DG REGIO matrix meeting in Brussels (07-02) and the INIO-INFORM conference in Palermo (15 and 16-05, were a Project representative released a video-interview with the major Italian business-economic journal (Il Sole 24 Ore).
To reach out to a wider audience of practitioners and policy-makers, Participation in the workshwe participated to a number of events:
1) R2B – Research to Business 2018 “13th edition of the International Exhibition on Industrial Research and Skills for Innovation” – 7-8 June, 2018, Bologna (IT)
2) R2B - Research to Business 2019 “14th edition of the International Exhibition on Industrial Research and Skills for Innovation” – 6-7 June, 2019, Bologna (IT). Participation of PERCEIVE delegation as guests at the final event and award ceremony (Brasili Cristina)
The work carried out in work package 1 made available for the scientific community a rich body of data collected in different ways.
The survey at citizen level is the first ever source of data on the extent and the cause of citizens' support towards EU through the knowledge of Cohesion Policy, employing a multidimensional and comprehensive approach linking different strands of theory offered by the literature on public support for EU integration.
All this body of data is available for EU researchers; this is, we suggest, an immensely valuable contribution of the PERCEICE project to the scientific community.
In work package 2, we expect a high scientific impact of the IdentEU model given the novelty of the application of the methodological approach, based on Hierarchical Latent Class Analysis. The IdentEU not only represents an advancement on the modelling state of the art for academics.
In work package 3, we provided recommendations on how to communicate cohesion policy grounding on our novel statistical inferences on the link between communication efforts and awareness and identification.
As for work package 4, we foresee that the outputs of the project will contribute to get a better understanding of how EU policies are interacting each other. In addition, scientifically, the building of a new index of ‘smartness and quality of life’ will contributed to advance the state of the art.
The research work conducted in work package 5, we advocate, put forwards a key issue that is both novel and relevant. Specifically, research highlights how local (national) structures of meaning seem to filter the perception of the EU. In other words, we observe that, in the local discourse different topics describe different aspects of regional policy, which ultimately associate to different levels of European identification.
As for work package 6, the development, of a computer model that simulates the implementation and communication of cohesion policy allowed an in-depth analysis of the web of interweaved processes that underpin cohesion fund allocation and absorption.
To our knowledge, the PERCEIVE computer model is the first one able to contemporaneously simulate processes of allocation and absorption of cohesion of funds, along with processes of policy communication.
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