Can Europe
feel European?
Here’s what
we found out.

Research has something to say

PERCEIVE is a European research project that investigated how much citizens feel European and to what extent this is related to the implementation of the European Cohesion Policy. The project has been concluded and we are sharing here the results of our work.


Europe has a problem
with communication

The communication of Cohesion Policy has not
been effective in promoting support to the EU.

The truth is, communication itself has never been a goal of the Policy – it should be. Europe must learn to better communicate its policies, avoiding local governments to take credit for concrete benefits coming from EU funds. Channels are crucial: awareness of European projects still passes through traditional tools (30% TV, 23% newspapers), while struggling on social media (5,8%). The role of the first ones should be rethought: they can increase visibility of Cohesion Policy but do not fuel support for the EU project. More sophisticated tools (e.g. video competitions, ”Did you know?” campaigns, photo exhibitions, etc.) could be effective for specific groups but not for others. Specific tools and messages should be used for the “losers” of European integration, i.e. olders, unskilled, rural citizens.



Allocating structural funds
is not sufficient to obtain consent.

Benefiting from European funds does not
necessarily imply supporting the European
project and identifying with Europe.

Some regions largely benefit from European funds and are aware of receiving funds from the EU but do not translate this awareness into support for the European project. For example, Calabria (Italy) is a region that benefits greatly from European funds and more than 60% of respondents are aware of the existence of structural funds. Although, only 10% perceive the benefits of EU funds and the 34% (the highest proportion recorded in PERCEIVE survey) considers being part of the EU a bad thing. This, according to PERCEIVE researchers, can happen for two reasons: Structural Funds do not generate a benefit because they are not spent well; communication needs to be improved with regard to the virtuous results of cohesion policy.



Half of European citizens
are not aware of EU policies.

PERCEIVE research showed that citizens’ awareness of what the EU is investing in their regions is generally low, with large differences across Europe.

Overall, every two European citizens, less than one knows about EU Cohesion Policy (45%). Structural Funds are known on average by 50% of EU citizens. In the case of EU Regional Policy, the average percentage rises to 53%: according to PERCEIVE researchers, this is also because – simply – words count: “cohesion policy” is much more cryptic than “regional policy”.


About PERCEIVE project

PERCEIVE is a three years research project part of EU programme Horizon 2020. The project investigated the impact of Cohesion Policy in creating a shared sense of European identity and a wider adherence to the values of Europe among citizens. PERCEIVE analysed the sense of European identity based on the regional differences in application and communication of Cohesion Policy.

Interact with PERCEIVE research

The project produced interesting outputs that challenge users – experts or not – to explore the hidden relations between perception, awareness, absorption and governance of EU policies.



What’s your relationship
with the EU?

Based on research, we crafted a simple quiz to find out what kind of European you might be. Browse through the 6 profiles to lean more about it.

PERCEIVE Guidelines

How to better communicate
and implement EU projects?

Practical recommendations to improve the efficiency of EU project in building awareness, identification and support to Europe.

PERCEIVE Simulation

Discover what impacts the effectiveness
of EU policies at local level

Get an insight into EU policy-makers’ simulating the implementation of the European Cohesion Policy through the impact of several variables.

For the press

Are you interested in mentioning our results?
Download all press releases and synthetic
information about the project.

Social media

Follow PERCEIVE accounts and get an idea
of how research developed through the project
and how the team has disseminated our findings.