Do Citizens Support EU Cohesion Policy? Measuring European support for redistribution within the EU and its correlates
As the European Union enters into the next decade, its leaders seemingly strive towards more future integration rather than less, despite the recent setback of Brexit and the rise of anti-EU populist parties. In his state of the Union in 2018, Jean Claude Junker emphasized s ‘European solidarity’. One key policy ‘expression of solidary’ would be Cohesion Policy and the Structural Funds, which are “the only real, significant redistributive mechanism in the EU…” (Fratesi 2017). . Despite elite commentary, we know surprisingly little about what EU citizens think of the rationale behind the policy of Cohesion – e.g. economic redistribution within the EU. As part of the PERCEIVE Horizon2020 project, we launched a unique survey to investigate how citizens feel about economic integration within the Union, where 17,200 citizens were interviewed. In this paper, we show how we measure support for the policy, the results as well as a host of correlates. Our analysis shows the variation in citizens’ support for EU Cohesion policy between countries, how support varies between demographic groups, as well as the extent to which support is correlated with utilitarian and ideational factors as well as cue taking. Implications for future developments of this policy are discussed.