Christine Arnold, Eli Sapir, Galina Zapryanova
Trust in the Institutions of the European Union: A Cross-Country Examination

European Integration online Papers, 2012:
ISSN: 1027-5193

Trust in political institutions is one of the key elements which make representative democracies work. Trust creates a connection between citizens and representative political institutions. Democratic governments which enjoy a large degree of trust also tend to have higher degrees of legitimacy and policy efficacy. In Europe’s multi-level governance structure, it is imperative to understand the determinants of trust in the institutions of the European Union. With the increasing salience of the European Union, are domestic proxies still a key determinant of evaluating its institutions? Are there differences across the institutions and across the member states? We demonstrate that country-level corruption levels are what drives the relationship between domestic and European institutional trust. The majority of the variation in trust in the institutions of the European Union is, however, driven by individual-level predictors. We also find that individuals across Europe evaluate the institutions of the European Union through a single attitude dimension of political trust rather than through separate evaluations.