In 2017 we launched a comprehensive regional level survey on citizens’ support for policies aimed at reducing inequality between richer and poorer regions in Europe, cohesion policy. In all, 17,147 interviews were carried out in 15 EU member states, which represent 85% of the total EU28 population. This new major data collection effort was aimed at enhancing our understanding of not only citizen knowledge, attitudes and experience with Cohesion policy, but also potential determinants –both original to the project and others drawn from the literature –that are associated with support (or lack thereof) for redistribution. This survey aims to facilitate research on the factors that may ultimately determine the level of redistribution and inequality in Europe, such as identification with Europe, utilitarian (self-interest) factors, political party support, and perceptions of the quality of government and corruption at regional, country, and EU level (Bauhr and Charron 2019a; Charron and Bauhr 2018b).
Based on this survey and other work, we also produced a number of publications on corruption, identity and public support for international redistribution. We found that domestic levels of corruption and institutional quality are an important explanation for the great variation in public support for within EU redistribution, and that the effects of institutional quality are consistently stronger than macro-economic factors, including economic development, inequality, levels of public debt or even the amount of Structural Funds allocated (see Bauhr and Charron 2018a). Citizens in low corrupt contexts are more likely to support financial assistance to fellow member states (Bauhr and Charron 2018a). Improvements in the quality of government and lower levels of corruption may increase solidarity overall. We also found that perceptions of domestic corruption increase support for Cohesion Policy but only in contexts where the quality of government is low and public service delivery deficient. Perceptions of corruption have no such effect in contexts where the quality of government is high. Citizens who perceive extensive levels of corruption and live in high corrupt areas can feel that the EU compensates for deficient national institutions (Bauhr and Charron 2019a). Third, we show that citizens’ support for redistribution within the EU is highly contingent not only on the level of identification with Europe but also on the fundamental nature or type of European identification that citizens’ hold. In particular, we suggest that citizens’ who feel European based on civic ties are more likely to support Cohesion policy, than those that instead identify with Europe based on religion and in particular Christianity, irrespective of strength of identity (Bauhr and Charron forthcoming). If citizens believe that religion is the glue that binds Europe together, they are much less likely to support within EU redistribution. The division of types of identification with the EU- whether civic or religious- among citizens influences public support for EU lead redistribution and the level of social solidarity across borders.
While several publications are still in the pipeline, the publications that have thus far emerged from this project are found on this page. Furthermore, the work has been presented and discussed at numerous conferences with diverse audiences, including the APSA 2017 and 2018, ECPR 2018, the policy dialogue day 2018 and Regional Studies Association