Policy Brief

Beds or bonds? Conditional solidarity in the coronavirus crisis

2020 | Dirk Leuffen, Sebastian Koos

How much of and what kind of help are Europeans willing to provide reciprocally during the corona crisis? This policy brief together with a survey of Germany’s population shows a mixed picture: While the willingness to show medical solidarity is high, there is only a limited willingness to support financial redistribution measures.


The top priority of the German EU Council Presidency is tackling the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. To this end, 500 billion euros might be issued in the form of EU bonds – establishing financial solidarity that is unprecedented in EU history.

However, the federal government still must work on persuading the population of this. This is the result of a survey which we have compiled in a policy brief, and which Der Spiegel has summarised as “Yes to ventilators, no to bonds”.

According to this, the willingness to show solidarity through medical aid is indeed high. Financial aid, on the other hand, has so far been supported by only 44% of those surveyed in Germany, and EU bonds by only 26%. The willingness to help increases or decreases under different scenarios.


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Main Findings

  • Redistribution measures must be well justified: The causes of the need and its extent must be explained. A sole focus on costs reduces the willingness to help.
  • Common crisis precautions should be expanded. The survey shows that amongst the respondents, there are large cross-party majorities in favour of medical-based solidarity (exception: AfD supporters).


About the Authors

Dirk Leuffen is a Professor of Political Sciences with a focus on international politics at the University of Konstanz and a member of the Cluster of Excellence “The Politics of Inequality”. His research interests include European integration, decision-making in the EU, and the interplay of domestic and international politics.


Sebastian Koos is Junior Professor for corporate social responsibility at the University of Konstanz and a member of the Cluster of Excellence “The Politics of Inequality”. His research focuses on the areas of economic and organizational sociology as well as political sociology; in particular, he researches corporate responsibility, social movements, and solidarity.


This policy paper was published by the Cluster of Excellence “The Politics of Inequality” of the University of Konstanz in cooperation with Das Progressive Zentrum.

Dirk Leuffen

Sebastian Koos

published on

20 July 2020