Narratives on a "better life" that can become reality elsewhere have always been shaping human migration. The image or idea of a "promised land", however, might not be real, and newcomers are often faced with obstacles and challenges. Certain narratives and perceptions of Europe influence migration aspirations and false images can not only lead to problems when the image does not hold true, but it might also even lead to security threats, risks or radicalisation. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance to understand and investigate narratives about Europe, how these can lead to problems and threats, how they are distributed, and, in a next step, find ways to react and counteract on them. Perceptions on Europe are formed in the country of residence, and they are based on a multitude of sources.
Social media and new communication networks, in addition, have increased the scope and the intensity of distribution of such narratives; and furthermore, so-called filter bubbles and echo chambers can lead to isolated misperceptions that are not corrected. Due to new communication technologies, false or incorrect claims become life on their own, raise expectations or disapproval. At the same time, however, these technologies and communication networks might also provide a channel to set an exaggerated image straight and to promote a more realistic narrative. It is, therefore, the aim of the PERCEPTIONS project 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 countries West- and Central Mediterranean area. Based on the research
insights, the consortium will develop a PERCEPTIONS framework model including policy recommendations and action plans.