Understanding the impact of novel technologies and social media on perceptions of Europe abroad


Europe needs new safeguards to guarantee transparency in digital political advertising that allow regulators to oversee who is funding what online. The self-regulatory Code of Practice that the European Commission adopted with tech companies is an important first step. Yet, the Code does not foresee clear enforcement or sanction mechanisms. This project aims to strengthen European level policy so as to guarantee transparency in digital political advertising.

The Virtual Insanity project aims at strengthening European level policy that guarantees transparency in digital political advertising. This will be done through research and multi-stakeholder policy dialogue at the national and European


The project aims to identify and understand the narratives and (mis)perceptions of the EU abroad, assess potential issues related with the border and external security in order to allow better planning and outline reactions and countermeasures. For that purpose, the project will conduct research on the narratives and the myths that are circulating about the EU in three countries of migrants’ origin (as well as transit) (Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia) and four Mediterranean countries of arrival (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain), as well as two countries of transit to Europe (Bulgaria and Kosovo), representing three routes into Europe (Western, Central, and Eastern Mediterranean) (Forin & Healy 2018).

The research will be conducted in cooperation with local and international partners in order to find out how the EU is perceived in social media, local newspapers and by the general public. These perceptions might vary and they might cover the scope for example from the EU as the “paradise” to the EU as the “seminary of vice” and “evil”.

A comprehensive approach combining quantitative and qualitative research methods will clarify the picture for the exemplary selection of research sites. The outcomes will be analysed against the background of the scientific literature.

Based on the research insights, the consortium will develop a PERCEPTIONS framework model including policy recommendations, action plans and a policy strategy – aligned with the ethical principles of the EU –addressing these challenges through foreign policy on different levels (from bilateral contacts to high level working groups). Furthermore, this framework will contain validated new methods for practitioners and civil-society organisations in order to support them to present a realistic picture of the EU in these countries.