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

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.