How trust in EU institutions is linked to trust in national institutions: Explaining confidence in EU governance among national-level public officials

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Series Details Volume 20, Number 4, Pages 629-648
Publication Date December 2019
ISSN 1465-1165 (print) | 1741-2757 (online)
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This article analyzes the link between trust in national institutions and trust in European Union-level institutions among national public officials. Previous research has mainly looked at citizens; in contrast, little is known about the views national officials actually hold towards European Union-level institutions or how much confidence they place in them.

Our study draws on a unique survey of 670 officials in 17 European Union member states who are involved in civil protection, a policy area which has recently emerged as one of the most important in the Union. Three mechanisms are explored: a ‘transference’ mechanism; a ‘trust syndrome’ mechanism and a ‘rational evaluation’ mechanism. Our findings confirm the existence of all three mechanisms and show that if European Union institutions are to be trusted to manage European Union-wide crises, then national institutions must be trusted too. This has far-reaching implications for the prospects of enhanced cooperation among civil-protection institutions in the European Union.

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