Public Opinion Towards the Euro and the EU After a Tumultuous Decade

Recent crises in Europe (EU) have exposed the continued vulnerabilities of the eurozone. Despite the pronounced demand for institutional reforms, political supply has remained meager at best for a long time. During the euro crisis, fiscal capacity building was highly contested, and invariably late. The COVID-19 pandemic changed Europe’s momentum, as member states agreed to the creation of a pandemic recovery fund. The pandemic also initiated a discussion about broader reforms, leading to many proposals that either suggest to further integrating core state powers or to institutionally reforming the eurozone. However, given the strategic interdependencies between member states, the EU generates opportunities for mobilization in favor and against European integration. This determines the feasibility of different economic policies and reforms: whereas political actors at the national level are constrained by European rules, European actors have to react to political dynamics at the national level. Therefore, my research studies the politics of contentious European policies.

One research project conducted jointly with Lucio Baccaro and Erik Neimanns focuses on preferences towards fiscal integration and the strategic interdependence of governments in the eurozone. For example, we use two linked survey experiments in Germany and Italy to show that there is no insurmountable opposition towards fiscal integration in Europe, as citizens respond to information about economic interdependencies across countries. This helps to explain why German politicians relaxed their hostility to joint debt and agreed to the EU’s pandemic recovery fund in 2020. Another research project conducted jointly with Theresa Kuhn, Maurits Meijers, and Francesco Nicoli similarly shows that preferences towards fiscal integration respond to elite framing. Based on two separate survey experiments, we show that preferences are multi-dimensional but that attitudes towards the most contentious policy – joint European debt – strongly respond to partisan cues.

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