The influence of the crisis on the perceptions of European Union institutions by national political elites
The chapter investigates the evolution of the attitudes of national political elites towards European Union (EU) institutions during the crisis. Such attitudes are divided in four main empirical dimensions: an evaluative dimension referred to the functioning of EU institutions; another concerning preferences with respect to the reinforcement of supranational governance; a third dimension related to the evaluation of position of national states vis-à-vis EU institutions; and a final dimension dealing with the reinforcement of citizen participation in EU decision-making processes. The results indicate that, in most countries, the attitudes of national MPs concerning EU institutions have not generally followed a similar path of deterioration as observed among their fellow citizens. On the contrary, changes among domestic representatives have been quite limited. Overall, national representatives show a higher level of trust in EU institutions than their fellow citizens, and a positive stance towards the advancement of supranational governance, combined with intergovernmental elements. In contrast, they are less prone to favour the expansion of direct citizen participation. Finally, a multi-level analysis demonstrates that levels of trust and supranational governance preferences are affected by the crisis context. Nevertheless, such effects are related not to direct economic conditions but to the evolution of public opinion attitudes towards the EU.