Maria Livia García Faroldi
International experience and national contexts: measuring attitudes towards the EU in cross-national research
Since the early nineties, public opinion on European topics has become increasingly important for the development of the integration process. This working paper focuses on two factors that influence attitudes towards the EU: international experience of individuals and national contexts. Although individuals who have contacts with other European countries and citizens tend to be more supportive of the EU, their attitudes, opinions and images also develop through their national cultures, which frame their way of perceiving things. To confirm the influence of both variables, this paper proposes an instrument for measuring international experience and tests it using data from two Eurobarometer surveys, carried out in 1997 and 2001. Results confirm the importance of international experience, especially for people with a high level of such experience, although individual experience is shaped by national contexts. Analyses show that national context is a key factor in understanding the support for or opposition to the integration process.