Poll: French most pessimistic about economic future

25.07.14 @ 16:57

  1. By Honor Mahony
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BRUSSELS - Europeans are feeling a bit more positive about the EU than they were late last year but well over a third still feel "neutral" about it while a quarter feel outright negative about it.

  • The worst is yet to come believe a majority of French (Photo: Palagret)

The Eurobarometer survey, published Friday (25 July), showed that 35 percent of citizens feel positive about the EU, up 4 percentage points on autumn 2013 - the most significant increase between surveys since 2006/7.

While 25 percent have a "very negative" view of the EU, this represents a 3 percent drop since the last survey and continues the downward trend from a high of 29 percent in 2012 at the height of the economic crisis.

Just over half (52%) feels their voice does not count in the EU down from 66 percent last year while the number believing their voice is heard has leapt by 13 points to 42 percent, something the pollsters suggest is due to the May EU elections to the European Parliament – held just before the survey.

But the EU average hides large differences between member states. Three-quarters of Cypriots (75%) don't think their voice is heard, while a similar feeling of being disregarded at the EU level is felt by the Czechs, Latvians and Greeks (74% each) and by the Italians (73%).

At the other end of the scale the Swedes, Danes and Dutch are most inclined to feel they are being listened to in Brussels.

Meanwhile, trust at both the EU and the national level remains low, clocking in at 31 percent for the European Union. In 2007, before the economic crisis started, trust in the EU was 57 percent.

There is a wide spread among member states in attitudes about the future of the EU with almost two thirds of Greeks (56%) - whose country is undergoing harsh EU-imposed austerity measures in return for a bailout - "totally pessimistic" about the EU.

They were joined in their pessimism by the UK (45%), the only other country where more felt a black outlook than a positive outlook about the EU.

Germans topped the league of those feeling their economy was "good" (84%) followed by Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden and Malta.

The same was true of only four percent in Spain, Greece and Portugal while in France, the eurozone's second biggest economy, eight percent felt the country's economy was good.

The biggest drop in positive feelings about the economy was in Finland down 11 percentage points (to 36%) since last autumn.

The single currency is viewed in a positive light by most Europeans (55%), ranging from a high of 88 percent in eurozone state Estonia and a low of 16 percent in the UK, which does not have the euro.

Latvia, which joined the single currency in January 2013, saw the biggest increase in support since autumn (15 percentage points to 68%) while Lithuania, on course to join it in 2014, also saw a jump in support of 10 points to 50 percent.

Germany, which has paid out the most towards bailouts, remains largely in favour of the euro (75%) while support has risen in struggling and bailed-out periphery countries, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece.

More Europeans (47%) feel the crisis has reached its peak in terms of job loss than feel the worst is yet to come (44%). Overall eight states, including Germany, Spain and the UK, saw a switch from the majority view being optimistic rather than pessimistic.

French people are the most anxious about the future. Only 34 percent feel the jobs crisis has peaked compared with 60 percent who are bracing themselves for a darker economic future. Italy is the other major euro state where there are more pessimists (48%) than optimists (47%).