CODES – Comprehending and Debating Euroscepticism – is a project combining research and public awareness building, co-funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union. The partner organisations are: Comenius University Bratislava (SK); EuroPolicy (SK); PROVIDUS (LV); Social Development Institute (HU); German Council on Foreign Relations (DE); The World of NGOs (AT); Capital Foundation (BG); and Fondation EURACTIV (BE).

The project developed the discussion with citizens on their perception of the EU membership and ignited citizens’ thinking about the alternatives and possible negative consequences of the future without the EU. Our main aim was to raise awareness and recognition of the EU benefits among citizens, as our previous experience tells us the EU is often portrayed as a distant blaming figure for the bad policies, while the benefits remain unreported and under-discussed.

Through public debates, we identified the sources of public Euroscepticism and fears as a prerequisite for it to be addressed in a meaningful way. Through roundtable-style workshops with local opinion makers, we debated tools with the highest potential to present benefits of the EU in local environment.

The main project output is an innovative communication strategy based on a bottom-up approach communicating the EU policies (read here the policy brief: Being active, less formal and going local: Adjusting communication strategy). The outcomes and lessons learned in the project could be actively used in preparation of the European Parliament elections´ communication strategy. Thus, conclusions of the project have been presented to EU institutions and Member States ministries of EU affairs ahead of the campaign leading to EP elections in 2019.

Fondation EURACTIV organised on January 31st a workshop showcasing the results of the CODES project co-funded by “Europe for Citizens”. Local public debates gathering 400 participants were organised to identify sources of Euroscepticism (read the first findings here) and to develop a communication strategy based on local approaches in the run-up to the 2019 European Parliament’s elections, in which Eurosceptic parties could perform strongly.

This event gathered Benedek Jávor, MEP, Marjory van den Broeke, EP Head of Press Unit, and Luc Van den Brande, Special Adviser to J-C Juncker on “outreach towards citizens”. It was followed by a brainstorming session discussing solutions to engage local media, to mobilise citizens through citizens consultations, and how to combat “false news”.

The event involved 61 citizens, including 3 participants from Italy, 8 from Slovakia, 6 from France, 3 from Greece, 2 from Romania, 2 from Portugal, 4 from United Kingdom, 6 from Spain, 3 from Netherlands, 7 from Germany, 3 from Hungary, 1 from Latvia, 5 from Belgium, 2 from Poland, 1 from Bulgaria, 2 from Austria 2, and 2 from Czechia. You can watch here the video of the event:



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