Skip to main content

The Volkswagen Foundation has awarded €997 for multi-national grant

From the resurgence of Russia to the dangers of international terrorism, Europe faces difficult foreign policy challenges. Unfortunately, the important institutional bonds that have helped Europe meet such challenges appear to be fraying. It is within this context that French President Macron has called for a common defence policy, a shared European defence budget, and a joint military training academy. While Macron may be the most prominent voice advocating for greater defence integration (including a European force), he is far from alone. 


The current environment provides an ideal opportunity to examine the dynamic relationship between elites and masses in policy-making about common defence in the multi-level European system. Understanding opinions towards defence integration requires a comparative study of how elites and masses conceptualise security challenges, how they view the goals and means of defence policy, how they respond to changes in the international environment, and what they think about common defence. 


This innovative multi-method project combines qualitative (elite interviews) and quantitative (surveys with embedded experiments) research to examine what factors affect European security policy preferences. To examine these questions in depth, we will field multi-wave surveys on large national samples in Germany, France, and the UK. To understand how opinion differs across Europe (both regionally and across demographic groups) we will conduct a pan-European survey. To examine how elites view defence integration (and to understand how they view the public’s preferences about defence integration), we propose to conduct semi-structured elite interviews in France, Germany, the UK as well as with elites from the EU, NATO and other European countries. 


This project integrates research from multiple lines of inquiry in political science: public opinion about foreign policy, foreign policy analysis, the study of Eastern Europe, and the study of European integration. The grant will be carried out by a team of world-leading experts lead by Harald Schoen (Mannheim), that includes Jason Reifler and Catarina Thomson (Exeter), Matthias Mader (Mannheim), Thomas Scotto (Strathclyde), Theresa Kuhn and Seiki Tanaka (Amsterdam), Catherine Hoeffler (Lille), Jean Joana (Montpellier), Stephanie Hofmann (Geneva Institute), Pierangelo Isernia (Siena), Margarita Šešelgytė (Vilnius), Filip Ejdus (Belgrade), and Bogdan Radu (Babes-Bolyai).