Changes in public opinion and civil society over the last decade have shown that citizens, particularly in old EU Member States, have developed more complex attitudes towards European integration. While the European project was previously generally described as a teleological depoliticized project, aiming at building peace and comforting growth, different competing visions of the European project are nowadays acknowledged and surface among the public on occasions, like referendums or treaty negotiations. While EU official narratives are documented by studies on the European institutions or the visions of leaders and parties, their empirical analysis at the citizens’ level is still fragmented. Using focus group data in four countries (France, Portugal, Italy and Belgium) and three social groups (21 group interviews), we provide a comparative qualitative answer to how citizens envision European integration. Our results show that, first, official narratives do not fail to reach citizens, but they are also loosened, contested, and do not systematically produce a sense of common belonging. Second, they highlight the importance of socio-economic contexts, as well as national and personal experience in the re-appropriation of these narratives.
Reference : Beaudonnet, L., Belot, C., Caune, H., Houde, A.-M., and Pennetreau, D. (2022) Narrating Europe: (Re-)constructed and Contested Visions of the European Project in Citizens’ Discourse. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. see publication