EUDENTIFY- Common institutions, diverging identities?
Supranational institution building, identity formation, and the future of European integration

Research project funded by a personal VIDI grant of the Dutch Research Council (€800.000; 2022-2027) awarded to Theresa Kuhn

Amid Brexit, rising populism and conflicts over EU solidarity in the covid-19 crisis, this project reveals the dynamic relationship between EU institution building and collective identity. The EU has accrued political authority over nearly half a billion citizens, even in policy areas that are closely linked to national sovereignty. However, political identities are still primarily tied to the member states and many people do not identify as European.

The central theories of European integration offer contrasting views on the EU institutions-identity-link – some expect a spillover from institutions to identity, while others expect identity to constrain EU integration, but none can fully explain it. EUDENTIFY presents an integrated and empirically validated theory of the EU institutions-identity-link. I argue that the institutions-identity link varies across different policy areas and across time. Moreover, institutions and identities influence each other, both positively andnegatively. EUDENTIFY reveals how these mechanisms produce diverging outcomes, i.e. inclusive vs exclusive identities, and integrating vs disintegrating institutions.

EUDENTIFY asks three questions: (1) What explains variation in the EU institution-identity link? (2) Does European institution building impact collective identity? (3) Does collective identity impact European institution building?

EUDENTIFY provides the first unified framework on the EU institutions-identity-link. It develops an innovative theoretical framework, provides ground-breaking new data and uses cutting-edge research methods to analyse 50 years of EU institution building and political identity change as well as its micro-foundations. The project advances knowledge on European integration, political psychology and public opinion, while providing unprecedented possibilities to study European identity over a much longer time frame and using better data than what was previously possible. 

COVIDEU- The impact of COVID-19 on public support for the European Union

Research project funded by a Challenges for Europe grant of the Volkswagen Stiftung (EUR1.5 million, 2022-2026). Consortium: Heike Kluever (Humboldt University Berlin, PI), Sara Hobolt (LSE), Theresa Kuhn (UvA), Toni Rodon (Pompeu Fabra University) and Michal Krawczyk (University of Warsaw)

This project studies how the COVID-19 pandemic affects Eurosceptic attitudes, solidarity with fellow Europeans and the electoral performance of Eurosceptic parties. The core idea is that people compare national and EU responses and take cues from domestic governments, political parties and the media when forming opinions about the EU. We study the impact of the pandemic through six work packages that are clustered into three pillars. In the first pillar, we investigate how the policy measures adopted by national governments and EU institutions have affected eurosceptic attitudes, European solidarity and the performance of Eurosceptic parties. In the second pillar, we examine how political actors, namely governments, political parties and social movements have influenced EU support. Finally, in pillar three, we study how media framing and fake news have influenced public support. To answer these questions, the interdisciplinary team of leading scholars from political science, sociology and economics relies on an original multi-method approach combining survey, observational and geocoded data with natural, survey and field experiments as well as innovative natural language processing technologies.

Public support for EU Solidarity and Risk-Sharing in the Covid-19 Crisis.  Survey experiments in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain

Research project led by Björn Bremer, Theresa Kuhn, Maurits Meijers and Francesco Nicoli. Funded by Amsterdam Center for European Studies, University of Gent and University of Nijmegen (2020-2021)

In July 2020, the European Council agreed on a historic €750 billion recovery plan to tackle the unprecedented public health and economic crisis following the global COVID-19 pandemic. While the leaders of some member states were concerned about moral hazard and a potential Eurosceptic backlash of their voters, we actually know little about whether European citizens support European reforms to tackle this crisis and under which conditions such joint responses are perceived as legitimate. To answer this question, we conducted two survey experiments on public support for European solidarity and risk-sharing in the fight against the coronavirus in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

In the first experiment, we analyse to what extent public support is sensitive to key dimensions of the EU recovery fund, such as European debt emission and repayment mechanisms, and how support is structured within and across countries. A summary of first results has been published here.

In the second experiment, we leverage an actual roll-call vote in the European Parliament to measure party positions on debt mutualization in the European pandemic recovery fund in the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. Using parties’ voting behavior allows us to anchor unambiguous party cues provided in the experiment to a specific real-world situation. We find that in-party cues, both in support or opposition to debt mutualization, have a statistically significant effect in the direction congruent with the in-party position, whereas out-party cues have a significant effect incongruent with the out-party position.

Uniformity and Differentiation in European Regulation

Research project led by Theresa Kuhn, Maria Weimer and Jonathan Zeitlin, supported by Amsterdam Center for European Studies

This interdisciplinary research project tackles the challenge of reconciling functional pressures for uniform rules in integrated markets with diversity of preferences, institutions and conditions across member states. How far can such diversity be accommodated through flexible or ‘experimentalist’ forms of governance, as opposed to differentiated regimes in which some member states push ahead while others opt out, or unresolvable deadlocks that may block or even reverse the integration process itself? And what are the implications of each of these scenarios for the effectiveness and legitimacy of European governance?


Research project by Frank Vandenbroucke (Co-PI), Theresa Kuhn (Co-PI), Brian Burgoon (Co-PI) and Francesco Nicoli (postdoc)

Supported by the University of Amsterdam, University of Leuven and INAPP

In the aftermath of the eurozone crisis, ambitions for European unemployment insurance have been high on the political agenda. However, are European citizens ready to share the risk of unemployment crises hitting their countries? This project sheds light on this crucial, yer unresolved question by conducting a conjoint survey experiment on public support for European unemployment insurance among a representative sample of nearly 20.000 respodents in 13 European member states. The conjoint experiment studies citizen preferences for actual policy proposals that vary on six dimensions: (1) generosity, (2) country-level conditionality, (3) cross-country redistribution, (4) governance, (5) impact on taxes, and individual conditionality. Our results show that policy design matters for public support. Findings also highlight differences across countries, and socio-economic and ideological differences among citizens. Most importantly, fundamental opposition to cross-border risk sharing is confined to a small segment of the European population. 


International collaborative resarch project funded by the ‘Challenges for Europe’ programme of the Volkswagen Foundation

The project strives to examine the dynamic relationship between elites and masses in policy-making about common defense in the multi-level European system. Two overarching questions lie at the heart of the project: what and how do elites and European mass publics think about greater (European) defense, security, and military integration? More specifically, the project wants to achieve the following objectives: (1) study what mass publics and security elites understand by “common defense”, (2) estimate the level of public support or opposition to a vast array of possible forms of defense integration across Europe, including assessing support for some form of European military, (3) explore differences in citizen perceptions and preferences across regions within the EU, (4) identify individual-level values, predispositions, attitudes, and demographic factors that shape support or opposition to defense integration, (5) examine how elite cues, social cues, and real-world events affect defense integration attitudes, (6) analyze the interplay of media content, individual media exposure, and mass opinion towards European defense and security integration, and (7) evaluate how (and how accurately) elites perceive mass opinion toward European defense and security integration, and vice versa. The project combines qualitative (elite interviews) and quantitative research (surveys with embedded experiments and media content analysis) to examine what factors affect European security policy preferences. The primary focus lies on France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain, four countries that will play important roles in European defense integration

PI: Harald Schoen, University of Mannheim


Finished Research project 

Funded by personal VENI grant of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (250.000€, 2014-2018) and a British Academy Research Grant (9.000GBP, 2012-2013)

In the context of the European sovereign debt crisis, this project analyses transnational solidarity in the European Union by asking to what extent European citizens are willing to share with people from other member states. To this aim, I conduct laboratory and survey experiments in several European countries. In the laboratory experiments, participants earn some money and then have to take different sets of decisions: (1) Keep the money or donate part of it to charities that help long-term unemployed people in their own country or in other member states; (2) keep the money or share it with other participants that are either from their own country or from other member states. By doing so, I can assess whether participants are equally generous towards recipients from other European countries, and who are the people that are most willing to share with other Europeans. The population-based survey experiments allow testing whether relationships found in the lab also hold for the wider population.