Europe's Trust Deficit: Causes and Remedies

Christian Dustmann, Barry Eichengreen, Sebastian Otten, André Sapir, Guido Tabellini, Gylfi Zoega 23 August 2017



Has trust in political institutions in Europe fallen and populist politics risen to such levels that the European Union is at risk of disintegration? Could other countries follow the United Kingdom and leave the European Union? Or has the tide of populism and distrust in Europe receded and will Brexit be unique? This first report in the Monitoring International Integration series uses data from the European Social Survey on trust in national parliaments and in the European Union, disaggregated to the individual level and paired with information on regional macro variables such as GDP and unemployment, to identify economic and social characteristics associated with Europe’s growing trust deficit in some EU countries. The report also uses data on elections to the European Parliament, disaggregated to the regional level, to identify factors associated with support for non-mainstream political parties and movements labelled as “anti-EU”.

While the report confirms that economics matters, it does not suggest that it is the only, or even the main factor. Economic conditions are particularly important for trust in national parliaments, but trust in European institutions and political support for the European Union are less sensitive to the state of the economy. This suggests that improvements in the obvious economic variables will not magically restore support for the European project. In addition to a strong economy, citizens and voters want a European Union that, together with national governments, delivers global public goods and provides security, while respecting their national identities. Meeting these demands will not be easy and may require a change in policy priorities, but does not entail rolling back the ambitions of building a stronger and more integrated Europe.

Download Europe's Trust Deficit: Causes and Remedies by Christian Dustmann, Barry Eichengreen, Sebastian Otten, André Sapir, Guido Tabellini and Gylfi Zoega here.

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Professor of Economics, University College London and Director of the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration

George C. Pardee & Helen N. Pardee Chair and Distinguished Professor of Economics and Political Science, University of California, Berkeley; and formerly Senior Policy Advisor at the International Monetary Fund. CEPR Research Fellow

Senior Research Officer, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, UCL

Professor, Universite Libre de Bruxelles; Senior Fellow, Bruegel; Research Fellow, CEPR

Professor of Economics at Bocconi University and CEPR Research Fellow

Professor of Economics, University of Iceland


CEPR Policy Research