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.  

This project is among the first to focus on migrants’ attitudes towards the welfare state. In Europe, the field of research on welfare state attitudes has ignored the perspective of migrants almost completely. Due to migrants’ socialization in different welfare regimes, and their often disadvantaged socio-economic positions, the migrant perspective provides a unique opportunity to test the central theories in the field on the role of self-interest, group-loyalty and of socialization in different welfare regimes. We aim to study migrants’ welfare state attitudes, and to explain differences across migrant groups, as well as differences compared to the overall public opinion in the country of origin and the host country. With this innovative focus we answer questions that cut across the call’s themes of ‘People and the welfare state’, ‘Inequalities and diversity’ and ‘Future politics’. We rely on existing cross-national datasets such as the ISSP. However, we also propose a harmonized and unique data collection among migrants in the destination countries Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.


Collaborative research project started in March 2015

Funded by Horizon 2020 grant (2.500.000 €)

PI: Maurizio Cotta, Siena

The goal of the EUENGAGE Project is twofold: first, to inquire into the current tensions between supranational EU governance and popular mobilisation at the national level, critically questioning EU-driven policies and EU legitimacy; and second, to propose remedial actions based on sound empirical research on the relationship between public opinion, national and supranational political elites. The medium to long-term evolutionary trend of the EU system of supranational governance has already in the past given rise to a manifestation of problems. It has become clear that the pace of integration proposed from the top, and some side-effects of integration—austerity, transnational redistribution, economic insecurity, immigration— are difficult to accept for large parts of Europe’s citizens. This misalignment is obviously a crucial issue for any system of governance that aims - as the European Union has repeatedly affirmed - to be inspired by democratic principles. The EUENGAGE project takes seriously the present state of affairs and identifies in the conflicting messages emanating from the functioning of political representation a critical and urgent problem for the future of the EU. The EUENGAGE proposes to set up an interactive, dynamic, multilevel and replicable quasi-experimental research design. Using a variety of instruments and techniques, this design will allow us not only to study the process of representation in vivo, but also to test experimentally how innovative and efficient interactions between citizens and politicians can increase citizens’ awareness of the common problems of the Union, and the ability of the European leadership to respond innovatively to the discontent of public opinion.


Finished research project

Funded by NORFACE grant

PI: Marcel Lubbers, Nijmegen


Book published with Oxford University Press

Based on PhD thesis at EUI

European integration has generated a wide array of economic, political, and social opportunities beyond the nation state. European citizens are free to obtain their academic degree in Germany, earn their money in London, invest it in Luxembourg and retire to Spain. An early theorist of European integration, Karl Deutsch expected this development to spur a collective identity and public support for European integration: by interacting across borders, Europeans would become cognizant of their shared values and beliefs, and eventually adopt a common ‘we-feeling’. The proposed book puts these expectations under scrutiny by developing a comprehensive theoretical model for understanding who are the transnationally active Europeans, and how their transnationalism relates to orientations towards European integration. An extensive analysis of survey data covering the 27 EU member-states provides a thorough empirical test of these hypotheses. Findings show that individual transnationalism indeed strongly and positively influences EU support, but that only a small, elitist group of the public takes part in cross-border interactions. The rest of the population is not triggered by transnational interactions to support European integration. The book further shows that the effectiveness of transnational interactions in generating EU support is contingent on a number of factors such as their purpose and scope. Importantly, increased transnational interactions result in negative externalities among those who do not become transnationally active themselves. Implications for the theoretical debate and current policy are thoroughly discussed.


With Wouter van der Brug, Erika van Elsas and Armen Hakhverdian.

Published in European Union Politics and Socio-Economic Review

Together with scholars from the University of Amsterdam, I work on two papers on the increasing polarization in attitudes towards European integration. In the first paper, we show that there is a widening educational gap in eurosceptic attitudes in Western Europe. We explain this finding by arguing that low educated people not only perceive European integration as a threat to their economic position and to national cultural integrity, but are also more receptive to increasingly eurosceptic party cues. This article has been published in European Union Politics. In the second paper, we argue that citizens blame European integration for increasing inequalities in domestic societies, and sustain this argument by empirically showing that an increase in income inequality is significantly associated with an increase in euroscepticism. This paper has been published with Socio-economic Review. The findings of these two papers suggest that European policy makers ought to cushion the negative consequences of increased economic and cultural competition, especially among the low educated.


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.

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

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


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

PI: Harald Schoen, University of Mannheim

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.