Understanding variation in public support for European integration


  • An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1993 Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, USA, 15–17 April 1993.

Harvey Palmer, Economics Department, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA Phone: (703) 993 1151/1130; Fax: (703) 993 1133


Abstract. Much of the research on the European Community focuses on elites and institutions and as a result downplays the importance of the mass public in determining the direction of European integration. A common justification for this viewpoint is that members of the public provide a stable reservoir of strong support for European integration. Recent political events, however, raise doubts about this depiction of a ‘passive public’. Consequently, there is a need for a fuller understanding of European attitudes. We specify a number of hypotheses dealing with the effects of international trade interests, security concerns, and demographic characteristics on cross-national and cross-sectional variations in public support for European integration. Using Eurobarometer surveys and OECD data on EC trade from 1973–1989, we investigate these hypotheses in a pooled cross-sectional model. Our statistical results reveal that an individual's level of support is positively related to her nation's security and trade interests in EC membership and her personal potential to benefit from liberalized markets for goods, labour, and money.