Working paper

Interest in European matters: a glass three-quarters full?

Everything that increases the interest of European citizens in the EU, independently of whether it has a critical or a supportive character, will serv

Publishing date
23 March 2021

The authors would like to thank Michael Leigh, André Sapir, Guntram Wolff, Nicolas Véron, Joris Melman and Lorenzo Benadusi for useful suggestions and comments. Klaas Lenaerts provided intelligent research assistance.

A disconnect between European Union integration and the level of interest of EU citizens in European matters is a potential weakness in the EU’s democratic foundations. The existence and possible size of this disconnect is a critical issue in assessing the potential for further integration of the EU and the risks to its stability.

To move beyond qualitative assessments of this disconnect, we use three indicators to measure EU citizens’ interest in Europe: turnout in European Parliament elections relative to national elections, Eurobarometer surveys of interest in Europe, and the presence of European news in national newspapers, relative to all published news. We interpret our empirical results using three frameworks: Putnam’s social capital concept, the agenda-setting hypothesis and the no-demos hypothesis.

All three indicators point to an increased interest in European matters, especially since the 1990s and the creation of the euro. However, this result does not settle the issue of whether the increased level of interest matches the actual state of integration of the EU’s member countries. Our results indicate the European construction maintains a technocratic character.

Recommended citation:
Papadia, F., E. Bergamini, E. Mourlon-Druol and G. Porcaro (2021) ‘Interest in European matters: a glass three-quarters full?’ Working Paper 05/2021, Bruegel

About the authors

  • Francesco Papadia

    Francesco Papadia is the chair of the Selection Panel of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF). He was, between 1998 and 2012, Director General for Market Operations at the European Central Bank. He worked previously at the Banca d´Italia, first as Director of the International Section of the Research Department and then as deputy head of the Foreign Department. Mr. Papadia has a degree in law from the University of Rome and attended postgraduate studies in Economics and Business at the Istituto Adriano Olivetti in Ancona and at the London Business School.

    Mr. Papadia is the author of a number of publications in the fields of International Economics and Monetary Policy. While collaborating with Bruegel, the focus of his research will be on European and global macroeconomic issues, including governance questions.

  • Giuseppe Porcaro

    Giuseppe Porcaro leads the outreach activities of Bruegel, including communications, media, events, and publications, as well as membership relations and the related support to the governance of the organisation.

    Giuseppe has been at Bruegel since 2014, and until December 2019 served as Head of Communications and Events. Giuseppe holds a Ph.D. in Geography of Development at the University of Naples "L'Orientale". He has been Secretary-General of the European Youth Forum between 2009 and 2014 and previously worked at the World Bank in Kosovo and Paris as well as the European Office of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement.

    Giuseppe's research interests lie with issues related to technological changes and how they affect policymaking and democracy, as well as to narratives about European futures and their policy implications. He is also a science-fiction writer, author of a novel about Europe and the future of democracy.

    He is fluent in English, Italian, French, and Spanish.

  • Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol

    Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol was a Visiting Fellow at Bruegel in 2015 and he is now a Non Resident Scholar. He is Professor of International Economic History at the University of Glasgow. His research focuses on European economic and monetary cooperation since 1945, sovereign debt crises and global governance. He is Principal Investigator of the project “EURECON: The Making of a Lopsided Union – Economic Integration in the European Economic Community, 1957-1992” funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC).

    Emmanuel gained his PhD at the European University Institute in Florence and has held several visiting appointments at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (2015-2019), the University of Economics in Prague (2015) and the University of Tokyo (2020). Prior to coming to the University of Glasgow, Emmanuel held the Pinto Postdoctoral fellowship at the London School of Economics. He is the author of A Europe Made of Money: the Emergence of the European Monetary System (Cornell University Press, 2012) and co-editor of International Summitry and Global Governance: the Rise of the G-7 and the European Council, 1974-1991 (with Federico Romero, Routledge 2014). His work has appeared in Business History, Cold War History, Contemporary European History, Diplomacy & Statecraft, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, and West European Politics, among others. You can find more information on his personal website.

  • Enrico Bergamini

    Enrico worked at Bruegel as a research analyst.

    He is currently pursuing a PhD in Economics and Complexity at the University of Turin. He holds a BSc in Business and Economics from the University of Bologna and a MSc in Economic Policy from the University of Utrecht.

    His research interests include economics of innovation, climate change, and inequalities.

    Enrico is a native Italian speaker, is fluent in English and has a working knowledge of French.

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