Research shows that there is clear citizen support for solidarity actions and policies in Europe. Yet, this is variable, nuanced, conditional, fragile and tied to identity. There is strong evidence of attitudes supporting help for people in need, reduction of wealth disparities and willingness to support other countries in financial difficulty. Levels of welfare and territorial solidarity are highest in national contexts, but are considerably higher in the EU when compared to global contexts.
Solidarity with refugees is less marked as in the other policy areas, with considerable geographical variation, whereby Eastern European states showing the lowest approval rates. European solidarity actions exist, but they are strongly dependent on volunteers and civil society organisations and often manifest themselves at a local level without necessarily finding a strong European articulation. Furthermore, limitations to European Solidarity result from a lack of a political space and constituency. For EU-level actions to tap the potency of solidarity, they must address its durability, mobilisation and the need for an appropriate legal framework. Support for civil society organisations is key in this regard. But, there also needs to be an appropriate legal space allowing for social interventions that directly improve citizens’ lives. Capturing the potential of solidarity provides a hugely important opportunity for the EU’s own relevance, renewal and resilience.