Tackling Illiberal/Eurosceptic Narratives from Below

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Skopje, March 5, 2021

EUROTHINK – Centre for European Strategies is delighted to announce the start of the new project “Tackling Illiberal/Eurosceptic Narratives from Below” which will be implemented between March 2021 and August 2022, alongside with the project partners: Scuola Normale Superiore University – Faculty of Political and Social Sciences – Florence (Italy), University of Ljubljana – Faculty of Social Sciences – Center of International Relations – Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Jan Nowak-Jezioranski College of Eastern Europe (KEW), Wojnowice (Poland).

This project aims at tackling illiberal narratives and Euroscepticism from below in four countries in Europe: North Macedonia, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. While the support for joining the EU is traditionally high in North Macedonia (around 70%), the past several years have witnessed an increase of right-wing nationalist discursive and physical outbursts, including a violent attack on parliament in April 2017. On the other hand, the three other member states host a high number of Eurosceptic and illiberal voices that need to be neutralized using counter narratives that are progressive and European.

The research component will engage the four partners in desktop research to map the key hotspots on right-wing extremism in their respective countries. Based on the results, the four partners will focus on maximum 5 communities per country where additional focus groups and in-depth interviews will be conducted in order to better understand the state-of-the art in terms of illiberal/Eurosceptic sentiments and actions in the country.  At the very end of the research, 5 policy briefs will be published, containing main findings and recommendations in order to advice multiple stakeholders, but primarily CSOs, on how to better counter illiberal Eurosceptic narratives.

The action component aims towards ensuring space in the discourse for debate on the topic.  Based on the research findings, the partners will organize 2 debates in all the respective EU countries and 3 debates in North Macedonia in order to disseminate the results and engage multiple stakeholders (primarily grassroots) and exchange knowledge and experience  in countering illiberal/Eurosceptic narratives.

The main outcome is to create environment for mutual experience sharing through establishment of national and international networks for tackling illiberal Eurosceptic narratives.