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Open Access Publications from the University of California

You Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You: The Impact Of Redistribution On Attitudes Towards Europe


European studies unanimously designate 1992 as a breaking point in European public opinion. The 1992 dramatic drop in support for Europe has been analyzed as a side-effect of the Maastricht Treaty: the establishment of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) raised citizens’ awareness of the economic implications of EMU. In this paper I hypothesize that the financial pressures that came along with the EMU raised concerns about the potential consequences for the level of social protection and labour market (de-) regulation.

           This paper assesses the empirical validity of this hypothesis by analyzing the effect of redistribution on support for Europe over time, in three steps. I investigate first the effects of redistribution on general support for Europe. Then, I narrow down the focus to concerns about the EU's impact on social protection. Finally, I investigate specific support for a European social policy. This paper provides a Time Series Cross Section analysis of public opinion in the European Union first fifteen member states, from 1996 to 2006, using Eurobarometer data.

           Time Series Cross Section and Cross Section analyses conjointly show a robust effect of redistribution on attitudes towards Europe and contribute to our understanding of the foundations of political support in multi-level regimes. European redistribution produces a general European political allegiance that can almost compete with the one induced by national redistribution. But, when it comes to specific support and which authority should be in charge of social protection, general support does not translate easily into strong preferences for European competences. Specific support for a European social policy results from a strong cost/benefit calculation effect: people want to delegate social protection to the EU when their national system fails them.

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