EU Cohesion Monitor 2019

European cohesion is bouncing back after crisis years. The EU Cohesion Monitor presents new insights on cohesion as an underestimated source of strength and collective action in the EU.

cohesion explorer cover

Cohesion is the glue that holds Europe together. It is shaped by a variety of factors that make Europeans more willing to cooperate with one another. These factors include the connections between societies and economies, people-to-people contacts across borders, as well as attitudes and expectations.

The EU Cohesion Monitor brings all these factors together in a comprehensive measurement of European cohesion across time for all EU member states. For the first time, this updated and extended edition of the Monitor includes the EU28 cohesion ranking and trends from 2007 to 2017.

The EU Cohesion Monitor is part of the Rethink: Europe project by the European Council on Foreign Relations and Stiftung Mercator. To learn more about the project, please visit

To contact the project team please email [email protected]

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What is the EU Cohesion Monitor?

The EU Cohesion Monitor is an index of the 28 member states of the European Union and their readiness for joint action and cooperation.

It measures how strong cohesion is, how it is changing, and how much it differs between the member states of the European Union.

The concept’s central assumption is that European cohesion is a precondition for Europe’s capacity to act, and that acting together successfully, will in turn strengthen cohesion.

Are cooperation and cohesion different concepts?

Overall, we assume that successful cooperation between individuals as well as societies and countries will strengthen mutual bonds, shared incentives, and common experiences.

Cohesion is broader in that it focuses on the disposition of collective actors to work together.

The EU Cohesion Monitor looks not only at actual cooperation but includes a measurement of the awareness, readiness, and cooperation-mindedness of societies.

What is the difference between individual and structural cohesion?

Individual cohesion describes people’s experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and well-being. Structural cohesion is shaped by connections and practices between countries on the macro-level, including the actions of economic, political, and cultural elites.

The two dimensions often complement each other, but this is not necessarily so. The EU Cohesion Monitor displays both dimensions separately to make this differentiation visible.

What recommendations emerge from the EU Cohesion Monitor?

Cohesion is a central resource needed for European cooperation. Strategies to strengthen cohesion need to address both its individual as well as its structural dimension. They should also address each country’s distinct cohesion profile.

Cohesion is not subject to swift changes. Measures that can boost cohesion should be pursued with stamina for the long term. The variety in cohesion also means that not only policymakers and governments are encouraged to address it. Cohesion is as much a field of engagement for civil-society organisations as well as EU citizens.

What is the methodological framework of the EU Cohesion Monitor

The EU Cohesion Monitor combines a total of 42 factors to measure cohesion along five individual and five structural cohesion indicators. The individual indicators quantify cohesion at the level of citizens’ experiences, opinions and expectations. The structural indicators measure cohesion at the macro level of the state and the economy. The chapter ‘Composition’ includes a detailed overview of all indicators, their factors, and sources. ​Overall cohesion scores are calculated in two steps. First, the simple averages of the five individual and the five structural indicators are taken. Second, the two resulting scores for both dimensions are averaged again. For detailed information on methodology and calculations, read A blueprint for measuring European cohesion.

Can I use EU Cohesion Monitor scores for my work? Are the data sets available?

Yes. The data underlying and generated by the EU Cohesion Monitor can be accessed in its entirety and free of charge.

Please cite as follows: EU Cohesion Monitor, European Council on Foreign Relations, April 2019, available at


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Cohesion Monitor

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Cover: Making sense of Europe's cohesion challenge

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The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.