Framing Europe: Eurosceptic Cues and Citizen Attitudes

Research question/goal: 

Given the more politicized nature of European integration, the subject of Euroscepticism has attracted significant attention in recent years. While it has traditionally been confined to the political fringe, centrist and other mainstream parties have increasingly adopted an EU-critical rhetoric in their political communications. On the one hand, Euroscepticism is a major component of the “new politics” in Europe, where elites leverage issues of national identity, immigration and multiculturalism to portray European integration as a threat to the nation state and its cultural traditions. On the other hand, claims that the EU is undemocratic—its policymakers unaccountable and its institutions remote—are on the rise, as are concerns that powerful member states impose their favoured policies on weaker states without deference to public opinion. Finally, critiques of the EU from an economic standpoint are another type of commonly employed Eurosceptic rhetoric, especially in the aftermath of the economic and financial crisis. All Eurosceptic messages are critical of European integration, but they focus on different aspects of the European Union. It is therefore important to examine the potential consequences of variation in Eurosceptic content for European citizens.

The goal of this project was to study and explain how different types of elite Euroscepticism affect citizens’ attitudes. For this purpose, a survey experiment was conducted in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Respondents were presented with different types of Eurosceptic messages, criticizing the European Union from an economic, institutional, or cultural perspective. Following the experimental treatment, respondents were asked a range of questions about their ideological and policy views on EU-related and domestic issues. Findings suggest that there are indeed differences in citizens’ responses to different types of Euroscepticism. These differences are conditional, among others, on individual-level characteristics. Data collection was completed. Additional data analysis has been conducted after the resignation of the project director.

Fact sheet

2014 to 2016
Data Sources: 
Geographic Space: 
UK, Germany and France