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Public Opinion and Policy Output in the European Union: A Lost Relationship

  • Dimiter Toshkov


    (Leiden University, the Netherlands)

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    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.

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    Article provided by in its journal European Union Politics.

    Volume (Year): 12 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 169-191

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    Handle: RePEc:sae:eeupol:v:12:y:2011:i:2:p:169-191
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