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ERC

EUROPINIONS Report Summary

Project ID: 647316
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EUROPINIONS (Causes and consequences of change in public opinion about Europe)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

EUROPINIONS focuses on the nature and composition of citizens' EU attitudes. It investigates the causes of these attitudes, their development over time, and their effects. The project is cross-national and comparative. It focuses in particular on the role of the media as a key antecedent of change. Understanding citizens' attitudes towards the EU is one of the key aspects of understanding contemporary politics. From a scientific point of view, understanding the dynamics and consequences of public opinion change is one of today's most important challenges.

The combination of dynamics, detailed, cross-national public opinion data, including flash surveys and panel components, linked up with media content data, while offering a comprehensive multi-dimensional perspective of EU attitudes is all well beyond the current state of the art. We expect to offer a new understanding of the causes and consequences of EU attitudes and develop a dynamic model of public opinion change.

We collect survey data, across time, in multiple European countries. This is done using online panel surveys and includes also ‘flash surveys’ administrated by cell phones. This allows for a more timely and dynamic tracking of public opinion while only needing to contact the respondent briefly. This approach will allow us to assess the nature, extent and scope of short term fluctuations in opinions. This is a novel feature in the study of EU attitudes which have not previously included such dynamic elements in the design.

We analyse the changes in opinion in part as a function of the news and information environment. This is assessed by an analysis of major news sources in the different countries. It allows for investigation of the extent to which opinion fluctuations are a response to changes in the news environment.

Our analysis of EU attitudes is also novel in terms of the measurement of these attitudes. Previous studies have typically focused on limited aspects of these attitudes and we aim to develop a more comprehensive overview of the different dimensions of EU attitudes to establish which ones are more, or less, stable over time.

The project is in the middle of the main data collection phase. After initial instrument development, pre-testing, and a pilot survey, data collection is now in full swing in one country (the Netherlands). Data collection will commence in fall 2018 in Denmark, Germany, Spain and Hungary, and in Spring 2019 in France, Greece, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, and Sweden

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Completed:
- Project startup (fall 2015), team recruitment (winter 2015), team start (fall 2016)
- Concept review, pilot survey, instrument development (fall 2016, spring 2017)
- Panel survey up and running in the Netherlands, two waves completed (Wave 1 September 2017, Wave 2 January 2018).
- Data collected from flash survey (spring 2018). This flash survey is considered a test, to make sure the flash survey instrument works well. Response rate was very positive, and initial data quality analyses have been completed.
- Content analysis (NL) in progress (spring 2018), coder training completed, data collection started
- First experimental data collected (2017)

In progress:
- Compilation and analysis of an extensive dataset of 17 years of newspaper coverage of the European Union in 15 European Countries (spring 2018)
- Preparation for Dutch Wave 3 (June 2018);
- Continuation collection of experimental data (2018)
- preparation for cross-national extension of survey (Fall 2018). In Fall 2018 data collection will start in Denmark, Germany, Spain and Hungary.
- In Spring 2019 data collection will happen in France, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, and Sweden.
- This is an expansion of countries compared to the original proposal. This was made possible by obtaining additional funding for data collection from the University of Amsterdam and by getting competitive prices through the public tender process.
- The flash surveys will be implemented. As listed above, a first flash survey has been tested in the Netherlands. Flash surveys will be used in the other countries too. After consultation with the polling institute, it was decided to use a text message based invitation system for the smart phone flash surveys rather than a specifically designed app which would require an additional download in advance.

Project events, updates, conference participation etc is communicated via social media (each team member has a Twitter handle). Major milestones are listed via this website: https://www.polcomm.org/research/erc-europinions/

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The combination of dynamics, detailed, cross-national public opinion data, including flash surveys and panel components, linked up with media content data, while offering a comprehensive multi-dimensional perspective of EU attitudes is all well beyond the current state of the art. We expect to offer a new understanding of the causes and consequences of EU attitudes and develop a dynamic model of public opinion change.
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