The impact of information acquisition on EU performance judgements


Matthijs Elenbaas, Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam, Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Public evaluations of EU performance are not only critical indicators of the EU's output legitimacy, but also shape future support for European integration. For citizens to monitor the political performance of the EU they need relevant facts, yet it is anything but clear that gains in information about EU performance cause change in judgements about such performance. Drawing on two-wave panel data, this article examines whether acquiring information following a real-world EU decision-making event alters citizens' judgements about the utilitarian and democratic performance of the EU. It also examines how this effect differs for people with different levels of general political information. It is found that citizens who acquired performance-relevant information became more approving of the EU's utilitarian performance but did not change their judgements about its democratic performance. Also, individuals with moderate levels of general political information were affected most strongly by new facts about performance. The implications of these findings for EU-level representative democracy are considered.