Social protection systems across the EU have undergone many reforms over the past few decades and are currently facing significant fiscal, social and political pressure. As a result, the future adequacy and sustainability of the European welfare state is an increasing concern in Member States, and there is an ongoing debate at EU level. This study collects and reports policy-relevant evidence on the attitude of the citizens of the European Union towards social protection, with the intention of identifying the type of social contract that people favour. The paper provides an overview of the factors that influence the demand for social protection and solidarity, and explores the potential support for further EU-wide solidarity and protection. The research builds on a thorough literature review, on a uniquely comprehensive collection of relevant European datasets and on systematic, theory-driven analysis of the available surveys. Throughout the study, the ambition is – to the extent the data availability permits – to cover all EU Member States, regardless of their period of membership, level of economic development and type of welfare system. Conclusions for policy developments are drawn, together with suggestions for further empirical work on the field.