Narratives and an understanding of a “common identity” are an effective legitimisation for European integration (Sassatelli, 2015). Furthermore, perceptions, e.g. on human rights and democracy, have an impact on migration (EUMAGINE, policy brief); and feedbacks from migrants back to their country of origin can affect migration both in a positive and negative way (Timmerman, Hemmerechts, & De Clerck 2014b), and, thus, also influence the image or perception of Europe.
Migration is caused by a number of push and pull factors – narratives are one part of this. Therefore, the project aims to investigate the different perceptions of Europe, as well as the problems that are caused when expectation and reality do not match, or security problems that might arise from false narratives.
The current image of Europe is influenced by a number of imaginations and narratives, and with the ‘Brexit’ vote, the positive idea of the European Union is under re-evaluation within the world. Migration as one of the key challenges in the last years further leads to a re-imagination of the EU. According to Sassatelli (2015), cultural identity is closely connected to various narratives (public, academic, institutional).
In addition, normative influences, as identified by Garip and Asad (2013), describe the influence that previous migrants have on migration aspirations of prospective migrants. Furthermore, European identity is still in the making and heavily contested (ibid.) – as e.g. the mentioned “Brexit” vote shows (Cassidy, Innocenti & Bürkner 2018).
Much research is carried out around the topic of narratives and European identity; however, most of it is focused on strategies for solidarity, changing the narratives about migration, creating an inter-European narrative and strengthening the cultural identity within Europe (e.g. Cantat 2015; Innocenti 2015; Scuzzarello & Kinnvall 2013). PERCEPTIONS, therefore, aims to support first-line practitioners outside of Europe in counteracting on false narratives and correcting skewed images of the EU.