Is There a European Solidarity? Attitudes Towards Fiscal Assistance for Debt-Ridden European Union Member States
31 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2015
Date Written: April 1, 2015
This paper analyses if European citizens are willing to show solidarity with debt-ridden EU member states during the recent crisis. Based on a theoretical concept comprehending four dimensions of solidarity - generalised willingness to support, existence of social cleavages, reasons of supporting others, acceptance of conditions a crisis country has to meet to receive assistance - we derived hypotheses stating that the existence of a European wide solidarity is rather unlikely. We analysed data from two Eurobarometer surveys 2010 and 2011 and a unique survey conducted in Germany and Portugal in 2012. Descriptive and multilevel analyses indicated that in 2010 and 2011, a narrow majority of all EU citizens supported fiscal assistance for crisis countries, and socio-economic and cultural cleavages in attitudes regarding financial assistance for crisis countries were rather low. Findings from the two country comparison showed that the willingness to show solidarity was predominantly guided by moral reasoning instead of the respondent’s self-interest. However, German and Portuguese respondents disagree on austerity measures, with the exception of social spending cuts. Taken all together, we come to the conclusion that recent years have brought a new legitimacy to the use of EU bailout measures which are now a given European practice.
Keywords: Attitudes towards solidarity, bail-outs, Eurobarometer, legitimacy, sovereign debt crisis, survey research
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