• This report studies the position, aspirations, expectations and fears of Europe’s middle classes concerning some of the key challenges that the EU is facing. It is based on an extensive online survey carried out in all 27 EU member states. It reveals an acute economic insecurity and fear of falling behind among EU citizens, especially in the lower social strata. It also shows that this crisis of citizens’ expectations and prospects is a threat to political stability, as it feeds into a dangerous crisis of legitimacy and trust in public institutions and political parties. Concerns may be most strongly expressed in the economic field, but also extend to the possible consequences of the war in Ukraine and the broader geopolitical realignments it entails. In particular, the combination of middle-class insecurity and relatively high levels of trust in Russia in parts of Southern and Eastern Europe should be highlighted. However, citizens also think that most challenges can be tackled and reversed through adequate political and policy action. In particular, the centre–right’s approaches to security, immigration and the economy retain great appeal among the European middle classes; there is a need to better connect with the lower middle classes though. Citizens also have a high estimation of the problem-solving capacity of civil-society actors and a relatively high level of trust in the EU. An inclusive narrative addressing European challenges on the basis of safety, stability, justice, freedom and cooperation could help to reassure Europe’s middle classes. Centre–right forces have a fundamental role to play in this process.

    Centre-Right EU Member States Future of Europe Middle Class

    Middle-Class Concerns and European Challenges: A Data-Driven Study from a Centre–Right Perspective

    Future of Europe

    15 Sep 2023

  • Green Deal Middle Class Sustainability

    Net@Work Day 3 – Panel 2: The Green Deal and the Middle Class

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    21 Apr 2021

  • Addressing the shrinking of the middle class is crucial to fight the rise of nationalism, protectionism and populism in the next European elections, Margherita Movarelli argues.

    Margherita Movarelli is a senior project officer at the Wilfred Martens Center for European studies, the official think tank of the European People’s Party (EPP).

    Margherita Movarelli Crisis Middle Class

    The success of populism, and why it’s all about the middle class

    Articles and Op-Eds - In the Media

    15 May 2019

  • We live in an era dominated by uncertainty and, above all, resentment; that is to say, the expression of a large disappointment generated by many betrayed expectations. What are the social sources of anger, and why does this feeling consolidate? How should the resulting process of fragmentation of the social context be interpreted? In other words, how to counter the crisis of democratic representation? This research project aims to understand if there is a political area, that can be defined homogeneously, which doesn’t determine its choices solely on the basis of resentment. What can qualify and identify this area from the point of view of the programmatic platform? What are the key words to counter populist demagogy? And finally, which characteristics can represent a new model of political, cultural, and social thinking? 

    Democracy EU Member States Middle Class

    Beyond resentment: A Journey through the Italian Middle Class from Postwar to Pandemics


    06 Dec 2021

  • Our societies have been witnessing the effects of climate change, which requires a swift reaction in terms of adaptation and mitigation. The European Union (EU) presented its main instrument to address these challenges, known as the European Green Deal, in 2019. One could discuss the various measures it proposes and their applicability, but another equally important factor is how to communicate this ambitious plan to the European public.

    The Czech public does not seem to recognise that climate change will have a substantial impact on the country, their local communities, and their own lives. In order to bring about genuine change to an issue that will undoubtedly and significantly alter our lifestyles, we need to mobilise public support. This publication looks into the opportunities and challenges that the Green Deal might bring. The authors are academics, economists, environmentalists, journalists, lawyers, politicians, and practitioners and together they present a comprehensive introduction to the Green Deal debate with a special emphasis on the Czech and European middle classes. Among them, Bedřich Moldan, Luděk Niedermayer, Ivan Štefanec, Merlene Mortler, Ladislav Cabada, Soňa Jonášová, Luboš Palata, Rumiana Stoilova, Ondřej Vícha, Lucie Tungul, Arjen Siegmann, Kateřina Davidová, Tomáš Jungwirth, and Aneta Zachová.

    Climate Change Green Deal Middle Class

    The European Green Deal and the Middle Class


    30 Sep 2021

  • Europe and the centre right simply can’t afford to get this recovery wrong. The challenge is to develop a policy approach which balances the unprecedented economic circumstances arising from the pandemic with the societal demand for more inclusive growth. Only in blending these challenges into a “Middle Way’ can the centre right hope to lead the economy recovery.

    This Policy Brief proposes four steps. (1) The unlocking of consumer spending and business investment to drive an initial economic expansion aided by tapering pandemic supports. Growth must become the immediate tool for tackling (and capping) pandemic related debt. (2) A back to basics set of priorities facilitating employment creation, affordable housing and the provision of essential public services. A ‘back to basics’ approach is necessary as it is the only way to deliver the payoffs needed to maintain support across a broad swathe of the middle classes. (3) A renewed commitment to reducing public debt and controlling inflation. Prolonged high inflation erodes purchasing power, particularly for those on fixed incomes or with savings. The optimal strategy for debt reduction is to keep debt levels steady initially, but then focus on slowly reducing it over time. Repairing public finances remains a marathon, not a sprint. (4) The centre right must play the long-term game because institutional reform (at both EU and national level) is about generational change, not soundbites. The European Recovery Fund is a long-term investment tool for achieving structural change, not a short-term mechanism for fiscal expansion. Europe’s fiscal rules also require a more easily understood framework. The ownership of these redesigned rules should rest with member states through a more decentralised Eurozone.

    Centre-Right Economy Macroeconomics Middle Class

    Getting Back to Basics: Four Centre Right Steps to Economic Recovery

    Policy Briefs

    20 May 2021

  • The publication examines the various aspects of these turbulent times and their impact on the Czech and European societies, with a special emphasis on the middle class. It was the (often) painful experience of the ‘quarantined’ middle class that exposed what it needs to flourish and not perish in the future.  The authors uncover the threats and the opportunities related to the current situation, and provide recommendations for centre-right parties, who have most often represented the interests of the middle class, currently most endangered class by the effects of the pandemic. The centre-right parties (together with the centre-left) will be in danger, too, if they do not present straightforward programmatic goals for the future of the middle class and honest leadership skills capable of cooperation and solidarity. Otherwise, we face the danger of further destabilisation of the political scene and the dismantling of liberal democracy.

    Crisis Economy Middle Class Society

    The (Post)Covid Era: The Middle Class in Focus


    29 Sep 2020

  • The middle class and its connection with various different social phenomena and their impact on our society is a very complex topic that requires an interdisciplinary approach when attempting to capture the individual aspects and influences. The term “middle class” is used in everyday speech by many politicians and journalists and is traditionally associated with centre-right politics, the assumption being that the middle class, as the guarantee of stability and prosperity, lies at the very heart of liberal democracy. This book aims to define the concept of the Czech middle class. It also intends to analyse and evaluate its economic, social and political aspects in the local as well as wider European contexts.

    EU Member States Middle Class

    Middle Class at a Crossroads


    08 Oct 2019

  • For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population belongs to the middle class. Global poverty has declined rapidly due to globalisation and technological development. But the same trends also lead to rapid change and the feeling that society is moving away from its moral core. In this book, the middle class in the Netherlands and Europe is highlighted by several authors and from several points of view. How is the middle class doing? What problems do families experience? What power lies in the civil society? And what does this mean for politics?  

    Economy Macroeconomics Middle Class Social Policy Society

    The Middle: The middle class as the moral core of society


    19 Nov 2018

  • Compared to the 18 months preceding the 2014 elections, the mood music in Brussels could scarcely be more different. But while growth and employment are increasing, vast swathes of the established middle classes have lost faith in their ability to achieve a higher standard of living and to match the social mobility achieved by preceding generations. Increasingly topics such as globalisation, free trade, immigration and even stable political systems are viewed as tools of the “elite” designed to prevent progress for working and middle class families. Politically, this has manifested  itself in a fracturing of the traditional party political system and the rise of a protectionist, combative populism.

    To confront these challenges, this paper identifies five social and economic priorities that should form an important element of centre right policy formation. With the ultimate objective of rejuvenating an aspirational middle class in Europe, we argue that only by bridging the gap between the rhetoric of a digitally driven, flexible economy and the day to day realities confronting middle class families can the centre right hope to increase working and middle class support in the 2019 elections and beyond. Such an approach is based on the core social market economy principle of seeking to conciliate economic freedom with social security, while maintaining a high level of personal responsibility and subsidiarity.

    Centre-Right Economy Macroeconomics Middle Class Social Policy Society

    The Middle Class: Priorities for the 2019 Elections and Beyond


    02 Mar 2018

  • This book explores how the position of the middle class has changed in the past decade. No Robots expresses the perspective of households which are not floating as some kind of atomic particles in a macro economy, but consist of human beings who find meaning in  relationship  to  others.  Analysing  their  perspective  on  the  economic  situation, globalisation, migration and technology is key, we believe, to understanding political trends.  In  this  context,  No  Robots  also  expresses  the  widely-felt  anxiety  about  the replacement of jobs by robots. Households in every country are concerned about the future of work: whether it will be there, whether it will be well-paid and whether their children are receiving the right education to find a job. These are the type of concerns that we uncover for a diverse set of countries from the European Union. 

    Economy EU Member States Macroeconomics Middle Class Social Policy Society

    No Robots: The Position of Middle-Class Households in Nine European Countries


    19 Nov 2017