15th Oct 2019

Pessimistic French more optimistic about EU

  • French people are slowly feeling a little more affection for the EU (Photo: looking4poetry)

French people still think that the worst of the crisis is still to come but they have a better image of the EU than last year and appear ready for reforms, according to a new eurobarometer survey.

According to the poll, 41 percent of French people view the EU positively, up from 31 a year ago and the highest since 2008.

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  • France should reform, most respondents think (Photo: Moyan Brenn)

But almost a quarter (23%) view the EU negatively while 35 percent have no opinion.

Respondents were almost evenly split in their views about the future of the bloc, with 50 percent feeling optimistic about the EU and 47 feeling pessimistic.

That makes France the fifth most pessimistic country concerning the future of the EU, with Greece being the most pessimistic, followed by Cyprus, Italy and the UK. The EU average is 56 percent.

But while French people are not overly positive about the EU, they are outright down about their own economic future.

Sixty-three percent think that “the worst of the crisis is to come”, three percent more than last spring but three percent less than a year ago.

With these figures, writes the Eurobarometer analysts, France is "honouring its position of eternal pessimist", with only Cyprus being more pessimistic.

Unemployment is what worries the most the respondents (63%), followed by the economic situation (26%), debt and inflation and taxes.

Only 11 percent are concerned by immigration while terrorism ranks last - but the study was conducted before the January terror attacks in Paris.

The French government, under pressure from the European Commission to undertake reforms to boost the economy and reduce its debt, may take heart from the some of the statistics.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents agree that "France needs to reform to face future" while 77 percent believe that "measures to reduce public deficit and debt cannot be delayed".

"The results of the Eurobarometer shows us a complete disconnection between the fact that an anti-European party has come ahead on one hand, and the improved opinion of the French people regarding Europe on the other hand", note the Eurobarometer pollsters, referring to the National Front winning last year’s European elections in France.

In the meantime the National Front is leading opinion polls (33%) ahead of this month's local elections and is expected to qualify for the second round of the presidential election in 2017.

The National Front last year abandoned its plan to exit the euro if it came to power, instead promising a referendum on the single currency membership.

The eurobarometer found that 67 percent remain in favour of the euro.

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A spring Eurobarometer poll on energy which still awaits publication - revealing a drop in public support for EU powers in this area - highlights the European Commission's strategic use of its Eurobarometer surveys in promoting key policies.

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