• A majority of Germans think they would be better off without the euro (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Germans long for D-Mark, poll shows

17.09.12 @ 17:40

  1. By Valentina Pop
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BRUSSELS - Two thirds of Germans think they would be better off with the Deutschmark instead of the euro, according to a survey published on Monday (17 September) by Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German foundation.

The study, carried out in Germany, France and Poland - the three countries in the so-called Weimar triangle - shows that Poland is also very sceptical about the common currency, while the French still think it is better to have the euro than the franc.

EU membership is generally speaking popular among the Germans, with 52 percent saying they benefit personally from being part of the 27-strong union.

But when it comes to specific policies - such as a single labour market or guarantees for social rights - they are rather sceptical.

When asked whether they would be better off if the EU did not exist at all, 49 percent of Germans answered Yes.

Only 29 percent said they thought things would be worse and 52 percent thought they would have better or at least equal chances on the labour market without the EU.

For half of Germans, the EU is failing to strike the right balance between a free market and social responsibility. And almost just as many (48%) think that social rights are rather put at risk by EU membership than protected.

This opinion is shared mostly by the middle-aged and elderly, as well as people with lower education and income.

What the EU is good for, in the eyes of the Germans, is to serve as a shield against global competition, as almost 60 percent believe the bloc is necessary to keep up with big global powers and emerging economies.

Some 70 percent also think the EU is a good role model for other regions in the world.

But when it comes to the future of EU integration, only a third of Germans think it will go forward, while 35 percent think it will be reversed and 27 percent say it will stay the same.

Polish and French support

Even though only 20 percent of Poles are in favour of the euro, their answers are very favourable when it comes to the EU.

Majorities in both France and Poland said EU membership allowed for a better personal situation and job opportunities, as well as social rights.

Freedom of movement is also perceived similarly in the three countries. Poles, who had experienced the Iron Curtain before 1989, were the most favourable, with 92 percent saying every EU citizen should travel passport-free around the bloc.

But over 60 percent of Germans and French were also in favour, despite their governments having taken a hard line on allowing newcomers Romania and Bulgaria to the passport-free Schengen area.

One question the tree countries diverged on was about "European identity," with 66 percent of Poles saying they could imagine what it is, while only 26 percent of the French said it meant something to them. Germans were somewhere in between, at 44 percent.

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