Do Citizens Support Cohesion Policy? Measuring European support for redistribution within the EU and its correlates

Nicholas Charron
2020 Investigaciones Regionales - Journal of Regional Research  
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 several ways forward - 'European solidarity', 'rejection of exaggerated nationalism', and support for 'balanced migration reform'. Yet he did not mention one key policy tool for achieving a closer Union – Cohesion Policy and
more » ... ohesion Policy and the Structural Funds, which are "the only real, significant redistributive mechanism in the EU..." (Fratesi 2017) and consistently constitute the second largest item in the EU's budget. As Cohesion policy essentially redistributes resources from wealthier EU countries to poorer EU regions, creating winners (net recipients) and losers (net donors), it has been a target in anti-EU rhetoric, including in the lead up to Brexit. 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.
doi:10.38191/iirr-jorr.20.001 fatcat:vvqcgpir5vf23ogt7vlulefkca