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EU solidarity in times of crisis: The role of information and news exposure

Democracy
European Union
Communication
Public Opinion
Solidarity
Survey Research
Katjana Gattermann
University of Amsterdam
Anna Brosius
University of Amsterdam
Claes De Vreese
University of Amsterdam
Katjana Gattermann
University of Amsterdam
Andreas Goldberg
University of Amsterdam
Franziska Marquart
University of Copenhagen

Abstract

During times of crises, citizens across Europe show varying levels of support for Union-wide solidarity measures, which may be influenced by exposure to information provided by the media. The knowledge citizens gain through the media also influences their opinion about the Union’s handling of the situation. Since the Covid-19 pandemic does not affect individual countries alone, citizens across member states assess the situation in other EU nations as well. Given the unprecedented situation this health crisis has created, the degree to which support for EU solidarity is influenced by news use is an unresolved question. In this study, we make use of an original panel study fielded in the Netherlands in April, May and June 2020. During these weeks, the Dutch government rejected Union-wide relief packages with regard to Eurobonds, a shared debt program for Southern European countries and became part of the so-called “frugal four” who proposed an alternative to the rescue package by Merkel and Macron; at the same time, support for the government and its crisis management has been noticeably high in the Netherlands. In this situation, we investigate Dutch public support for different dimensions of European solidarity during the Covid-19 crisis and ask which factors explain variation in this support over time. Specifically, we assess the predictive role of EU trust, general media use, and political orientation for support of European member states’ solidarity with regard to a) economic help, b) medical supplies and assistance, and c) open border policies during the Covid-19 crisis. At the moment, the data are still being collected; two waves of the survey are completed (W1 n = 1,741), a third and fourth wave will be fielded in the coming weeks/month. The panel design allows us to link Dutch citizens’ media use and EU solidarity support over an extended period of time, and to test whether changes in the latter are attributable to variations in individuals’ exposure to mediated information.