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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Should EU Member States Help Each Other? Public Attitudes Towards Cross-National Solidarity

European Union
Public Opinion
Survey Research
Camilla Mariotto
University of Innsbruck
Camilla Mariotto
University of Innsbruck
Alessandro Pellegata
Università degli Studi di Milano

With the outbreak of the Eurozone crisis, the idea of providing cross-national financial transfers for those member states under severe economic and financial conditions has stimulated a harsh debate among political elites and in the public opinion of both creditor and debtor countries. This paper investigates the reasons why voters may agree on cross-national transfers. Building on the neo-Weberian tradition, we propose an analytical framework for the study of this recent conflict over international redistribution that goes beyond the usual explanations based on self-economic calculations, identity and political cueing. Our framework highlights the role played by individual perceptions of risk, contingent situations and experiences, cosmopolitan exposure as well as inclusion in discursive and social networks. Empirical analysis is employed using data taken from the original REScEU Mass Survey conducted in six EU member states (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden) in autumn 2016. Unlike other recent contributions, our data are collected after recent major crises (refugee crisis; Brexit) that may have intertwined with the economic downturn in shaping public opinion. The REScEU Mass Survey includes a novel question that taps general attitudes towards cross-national solidarity as well as an item asking opinions on specific policy measures, such as Eurobonds, already included in other cross-national surveys. Our data show that: 1) the issue of cross-national solidarity is controversial; 2) variations across countries emerge but explain only a small part of the variance in individual support for international redistribution; 3) surprisingly, a considerable share of Germans is open towards bailout, even if this incurs in some personal costs. These preliminary results lend support for a deeper inspection of the micro-foundations of support for international solidarity.
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