Framing of Cohesion Policy

The importance of mass media in shaping citizens’ attitudes towards various political issues is well-documented in political communication and media studies. Moreover, mass media play an important role in the process of identity formation by influencing individual judgements towards the community and stimulating a sense of belonging in a group. Bearing these postulations in mind, it is clear that European integration and the formation of European identity can be affected by media representations of the EU and its policies. Following this logic, this research paper explores how media represent EU Cohesion policy and whether these representations can affect the formation of European identity. To address these goals, we undertake a framing analysis of 2714 media articles selected from European, national and regional media outlets over a 10-year period (2007-2017). The analysis revealed eight culturally-embedded frames producing news on Cohesion policy issues. The majority of the media articles had a positive valence, especially in relation to the EU. However, despite the positive valence of the analysed news articles, the analysis unfolded a low degree of Europeanisation of the public discourse. Overall, the results suggest that although media representations of Cohesion Policy can reflect a positive stance towards EU Cohesion policy, this does (yet) fully translate into the promotion of European identity mainly due to the fragmented and nationalised discourses employed by the media outlets that were investigated in this research.