Wednesday 9 December 2009

Political science blogging: Why Germans support EU membership

This post is based on the conclusion - following a short exchange of views with Kosmopolit some weeks ago - that I should not only contribute as a European citizen to European debates, but also as a political scientist with an interest in EU affairs.

Whenever I will find interesting analyses I will thus try to provide you with latest results and debates from academic journals and other publications:

In a freshly published article titled "Sources of EU Support: The Case of Germany" from the political science journal "German Politics" (issue 4/2009), authors Angelika Scheuer and Hermann Schmitt have presented their analysis on why Germans support EU membership.

In their study based on independent aggregate data sets for a period of 39 years they analyse how the economic situation, the amount of EU legislation implemented, and the general satisfaction with democracy in Germany affects the support of Germans for EU membership.

Their main findings are that although all three factors have an impact, the economic factor is the least relevant; a higher GDP only has a small positive affect on satisfaction with EU membership.

More important seems to be that they find that the stronger the impact of EU policy making, the lower the support for EU membership, and that the more satisfied Germans are with their own political system, the more supportive they are of EU membership. Both effects have a similar strength, with the latter being slightly stronger.

I won't go into possible critiques of the analysis - because there would be some - but the findings are still interesting enough for further political and scientific debate.

And so, although these findings, according to the authors, are not generalisable for other EU countries, they still show that satisfaction with EU membership is not just influenced by how citizens view the work and concrete impact of the Union, but also by the perception of and satisfaction with their own country's system, still the main political arena for most.


Max Steinbeis said...

I don't think you can draw that conclusion from Scheuer's and Schmitt's observation. This is something specifically German, I guess.

For 40 years German national statehood was only conceivable in a European framework. As shown in our book "Die Deutschen und das Grundgesetz", Europe was Germany's way back to sovereignty after WW II. Therefore European integration is ingrained not only in our national political system but in our national existence itself - which is why the German devotedness to European integration survived the reunification (with some bruises, but still).

Julien Frisch said...

Thanks for your comment, Max.

I am fully aware of the close relation between German post-war statehood and EU integration, and so I agree to a certain extent with your remarks.

Yet, I am not sure that your argumentation contradicts the hypothesis, because if we take it as a directional cause, one would say that if the confidence into one's own national system declines, support of EU membership will also decline. I could imagine that there could be a number of cases that will not falsify this hypotheses.

But luckily, the authors have announced that they want to do a cross-national study on the same issue, and we might see how generalisable their results may be. :-)

Julien Frisch said...

An interesting link that fits to the article: New social indicators threaten EU