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Public opinion and policy output in the European Union: A lost relationship


  • Dimiter Toshkov

    (Leiden University, the Netherlands,


The European Union (EU) is assumed to suffer from a democratic deficit. It is often posited that in the EU there is only a weak and indirect connection between public preferences and policy change. This article investigates empirically whether any relationship exists between public support for European integration and EU policy output (1973—2008). Using a new indicator of policy output — the volume of important legislation produced in a semester — I discover a surprising relationship between public support and legislative production. Employing vector autoregression (VAR), I demonstrate that public EU support Granger-causes legislative output but not vice versa, and that the relationship is strong up to the middle of the 1990s but non-existent afterwards. The effect is robust to the inclusion of indicators of the state of the economy and government preferences. In addition, I discover that the average level of EU support in the Council of Ministers follows unemployment levels with a four-year delay.

Suggested Citation

  • Dimiter Toshkov, 2011. "Public opinion and policy output in the European Union: A lost relationship," European Union Politics, , vol. 12(2), pages 169-191, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:eeupol:v:12:y:2011:i:2:p:169-191

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    Cited by:

    1. Sabine Saurugger & Fabien Terpan, 2016. "Do crises lead to policy change? The multiple streams framework and the European Union’s economic governance instruments," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 49(1), pages 35-53, March.
    2. Christopher Wratil, 2015. "Democratic Responsiveness in the European Union: the Case of the Council," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 94, European Institute, LSE.


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