The European Union is suffering from a democracy problem: Too many Europeans feel that integration is being forced upon them. What’s worse, they may be right.

New research from a group of economists — Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales — paints a grim picture of the European project from the perspective of its participants. Analyzing four decades of data from the Eurobarometer opinion survey, they find that three events — the 1992 Maastricht treaty, the 2004 enlargement to Eastern Europe and the 2010 Eurozone crisis — had the most negative effect on voters’ perceptions of the EU. In each case, the survey results suggest that Europeans perceived the events as driving further integration and didn’t like what they saw.

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