What Drives Public Opinion on the European Union?

1775 WordsJul 17, 20188 Pages
1 Once upon a Time... As the European Union (EU) has changed from an economic entity to also a political one, so has the public opinion towards the EU. While support for the EU used to prevail among its citizens, Euroskepticism has spread across Europe nowadays. This change in public attitude became most apparent when the referendum on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe failed in the Netherlands and in France in 2005. Many studies have been conducted to understand the attitude formation towards the EU. Basically, there exist two different approaches: economy- and identity-based theories. In general, the economic position takes a cost-benefit perspective, in which people who benefit from the EU you are more supportive. Some…show more content…
Last, seeing oneself as a beneficiary of European integration has impact on Euroskepticism and on attitudes to EU institutions (ibid.: 249). Second, the article by Eichenberg and Dalton (2007) "Post-Maastricht Blues: The Transformation of Citizen Support for European Integration, 1973–2004" takes a macro-economic perspective. They try to solve the puzzle why public support for the EU has decreased despite the positive economic conditions of the 90s (ibid.: 129). The political scientists report a cross-national convergence in public opinion (ibid.: 137). Moreover, Eichenberg and Dalton point out that economic factors do not influence citizen support as much as prior research suggested (ibid.: 135). Besides, inflation and trade concentration do not reveal any impact after signing the Treaty of Maastricht (ibid.: 137). In addition, the authors view the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as well as its budgetary consequences as the cause for the decline in support during the 1990s (ibid.: 140). They state that the citizens of the EU are more concerned about the distributive effects of integration than real aggregate economic performance of the EU (ibid.: 129). Third, Garry and Tilley's (2009) study, "The Macroeconomic Factors Conditioning the Impact of Identity on Attitudes towards the EU", combines individual- and country-level. Particularly, they ask under which macroeconomic conditions identity shapes public opinion on the EU (ibid.:
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