A couple of months ago I wrote about the latest Flash Eurobarometer survey on perceptions of EU regional policy. One of the interesting results was the apparent increase in awareness of EU regional policy in the UK after the referendum.
Having now had a chance to access the raw data as part of a wider project I’m doing on EU regional policy and the EU referendum, I’ve been able to look a bit more closely at this. This allows us to get a longer-term picture of how awareness of EU regional policy has changed in the UK over the last seven years.
Here are the results to the question “Have you heard about any EU co-financed projects to improve the area where you live?” for the last four waves of the Flash Eurobarometer survey on perceptions of EU regional policy.
A couple of observations: Firstly, between June 2010 and June 2015 the level of awareness has remained relatively static (and low). There is a slight downward trend, but nothing conclusive. However between June 2015 and March 2017 there was a notable increase in awareness of EU funded projects. Secondly, this increase exceeds the margins of error, so we can be fairly confident it’s not a random blip. In other words the result of the latest survey seems to buck the trend.
Now, the conclusions and caveats of my earlier post still stand. While the timing of the EU referendum might offer one potential explanation for the sudden increase in regional policy awareness, we can’t say for certain it was the cause based on this survey. And despite the recent increase, the overall level of awareness is still low. But it does speak to the wider debate going on at the moment about communicating cohesion policy to citizens, and that incorporating it into national political discourses may hold one answer to raise awareness.