TRUST Research group – Department of Historical Studies

Trust in European Governance

European flags in front of the Berlaymont building, Brussels

TRUST IN EUROPEAN GOVERNANCE (TRUST) seeks to explain and refine our understanding of the role played by trust in European governance, historically and in the present day. Trust, but also its opposite manifestations – mistrust and distrust –, are key elements of cooperation between Europeans and their governing institutions. Trust is a cornerstone of public support for these institutions and facilitates cooperation, both of which are essential for a variety of European actors, groups and institutions. At the same time, mistrust towards and among political and economic elites has led to the creation of some of Europe's most powerful supranational institutions.

Research undertaken by TRUST members is organized around three main focal points, each investigating trust in a European/EU or a Scandinavian/Norwegian context:

  1. Elite Trust: We investigate trust between and among European elites, such as political leaders, officials and experts. We examine for example to what extent elites trust each other and assess how important this trust (or lack thereof) is for their cooperation as well as for successful and effective policy-making in Europe and the EU.
  2. Building and mobilizing Trust: We analyse how trust is created, bolstered over time and/or mobilized to achieve political goals. We are particularly interested in what actors do to foster trust in European governance. How and under what circumstances has trust been created and lost? How is trust utilized as a resource to achieve political or other objectives?
  3. Citizens' Trust: We scrutinize what can explain the extent to which citizens in Europe trust the institutions that exercise government authority. Such trust is central for the continued existence, legitimacy and effectiveness of European governance.

The TRUST interdisciplinary research group was established in 2017. Co-led by Carine Germond and Pieter de Wilde, it includes senior and junior historians and political scientists specializing in European studies. The TRUST group holds monthly research seminars to discuss substantive, methodological and theoretical questions.

TRUST seminars:

TRUST members

Anke Schmidt-FelzmannAnke Schmidt-Felzmann, Baltic Sea Fellow, 
The Foreign Policy Research Institute - FPRI