Denys Rudyi - Fotolia

Are EU citizens in favour of a European unemployment insurance?

Study says yes.

Dr. Sch-W – 04/2019

A recent complex survey carried out across Europe by a team of authors led by former Belgian Minister of Social Affairs, Frank Vandenbroucke, has revealed a mostly positive attitude towards the introduction of a European unemployment insurance system. The survey did not look at any one particular model, but rather many different ones, including those that go significantly further than the reinsurance model, which is currently still in the running.


The complexity of the survey is related to the fact that six different ‘dimensions’ were presented, each with two to three variants, which theoretically allowed 324 combinations (models). Naturally, not all 324 alternatives were presented to each individual respondent. In other words, the approximately 20,000 respondents were not asked the same questions. In addition, responses were sifted out that were either internally inconsistent or indicated a lack of concentration on the part of the interviewee by the end of the survey cycle. Ultimately, around 20% of the responses were not taken into account as a result, the majority of which tended to reject European unemployment insurance. The authors also referred to other surveys which were less favourable than their own. It seems that much depends on how the questions are asked. 

Vandenbroucke’s report reveals, among other things, certain preferences of citizens. If European unemployment insurance is introduced, the benefit should be equal to 70% of the last wage rather than 60% or 50% (Dimension 1). Most respondents were in favour of making support for countries particularly hard hit conditional on the provision that the country offer training to all their unemployed citizens (Dimension 2). The condition that unemployed individuals must put effort into their job search, in particular by accepting job offers (Dimension 6), also met with a high level of acceptance. Depending on the geographical and social origin of the respondent, permanent redistribution between Member States would also be accepted, especially from rich to poor countries (Dimension 3). Even an increase in taxes (in the respondents’ own country) would be accepted, preferably through taxation of the ‘rich’ (1%) rather than through a general increase in taxes for everyone (0.5%) (Dimension 4). Even though it is a European system, the majority would prefer its administration to be in the hands of the Member States rather than the EU (Dimension 5).

Even though a certain ‘North versus South’ difference can be seen in the responses, the authors assume that all citizens will generally accept a European unemployment insurance system, even if there are permanent redistributions across countries. Obviously, the main concern is to describe the conditions and characteristics under which acceptance is greatest.


The study is available here.