European unemployment insurance: what citizens really think

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The European Commission has argued repeatedly that the European Monetary Union has to be completed by automatic fiscal stabilisers. To achieve this, one of the options would be the re-insurance of national unemployment benefit schemes at the Eurozone level. Are EU citizens ready to share the risk of unemployment crises? To shed light on that question, we conducted a survey in 13 Member States. Our survey takes the large diversity of EU-level risk-sharing policies that have been proposed as much as possible into account and translates it to citizens of all straits of the population in an understandable way. The core idea in all the policy variants we tested is that a new European policy would support unemployment benefits in countries that are in need, due to a significant increase in unemployment. Our results show that the specific design of policies, aiming at particular modes of risk sharing, matters for public support among citizens. The most important conclusion is that fundamental opposition to such risk sharing at the EU level is confined to a relatively small segment of the population. Rather than insurmountable polarization, we observe room for constructive democratic deliberation