Saturday

28th Nov 2020

Euro 'bad for the economy,' say French, Germans, Spaniards

  • Most Europeans do not trust the EU to solve the economic crisis (Photo: Fotolia)

As EU leaders gather in Brussels to brainstorm on the EU's role on the world stage and ways to toughen eurozone fiscal discipline, a fresh survey shows that most citizens in the main euro-countries think the common currency has been bad for the economy and are looking at national governments rather than the EU to tackle the economic crisis.

Some 60 percent of the French, and more than half of German, Spanish and Portuguese respondents said that the euro was "a bad thing for their economy", according to Transatlantic Trends, a survey published on Wednesday (15 September) by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The US think-tank carried out the survey in June in 11 EU countries and found that only the Netherlands and Slovakia had majorities saying the euro is a good thing.

Outside the eurozone, 83 percent of the British, 53 percent of Poles and 42 percent of Bulgarians thought that using the euro would be bad for the domestic economy. The only exception was Romania, where 54 percent of respondents are in favour of the common currency.

The survey also shows that while most citizens are in favour of EU accession, they also think national governments should be responsible for the tackling the economic crisis, rather than the EU institutions.

Only in Germany, who has been pushing for stricter EU rules to prevent another eurozone crisis, did the majority of respondents (54 percent) agree that the European Union should have the primary responsibility for economic decision-making.

This option was the least popular in the United Kingdom (25 percent) and in new member states Bulgaria (24 percent), Slovakia (22 percent), and Romania (15 percent) – usually favourable to handing over more powers to Brussels. The French were divided on the issue, with 47 percent saying the national government and 43 percent saying the EU should have the primary responsibility.

These results sharply contradict a recent European Commission survey that Brussels interpreted as saying that European citizens are in favour of "European economic governance" - a fuzzy term being explored by an ad hoc task-force set up by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who will be chairing the leaders' meeting on Thursday and outlining the first ideas on this issue.

Member states however strongly disagree on the measures – with Germany favouring 'automatic sanctions', while the southern countries insisting on a redistribution of debt among the euro-states.

Meanwhile, the economic situation of EU citizens seems to have worsened, compared to last year, as 60 percent said they are personally affected by the crisis, a five-point increase on 2009.

In the Netherlands, the percentage doubled from 20 to 40 percent, while in Romania and Bulgaria more than 80 percent said they were personally feeling the effects of the crisis. Seventy-eight percent of the Portuguese, 71 of the Spanish, and 67 of the Italians reported that they were affected by the crisis.

In terms of outlook, more than half of all Europeans feel that the economic difficulties should lead to greater commitment to build a stronger European Union. Italians, Portuguese, Bulgarians, Spaniards and Slovaks were especially favorable toward further integration.

Even as austerity measures were being adopted on both sides of the Atlantic, sparking street protests against wage and benefits cuts, an overwhelming majority of respondents in Europe (72 percent) and the US (90 percent) agreed that people are better off in a free-market economy.

The strongest pro-free-market feelings were registered in Britain (81 percent) and Germany (78 percent).

EU candidate country Turkey has shifted in its views on capitalism, with only 36 percent backing this economic model, a drop of ten points compared to last year.

A large majority of those surveyed inside the EU (78 percent) and Turkey (55 percent) continue to agree that the government has an essential role to play in regulating the market. The French, British and Portuguese are the strongest backers of government intervention, while the Americans are the least enthusiastic about it.

EU in the world

The role of the EU on the world stage, the main topic for leaders to discuss on Thursday, is secondary to the US, the GMF survey shows. Over 80 percent of Europeans predicted that the United States is likely to exert strong leadership in the future, while 75 percent also saw a leadership role for the EU.

Europeans and Americans are divided about the role Asia would play in global affairs. Seven-in-ten respondents in America found it very likely that China will exert strong leadership in the future, while only a third of Europeans thought the same scenario is very likely. EU respondents are also more likely than Americans to describe their relations with China as good.

When asked about India, the majority of EU respondents (54 percent) thought it was unlikely that the world's most populous democracy will exert strong leadership in world affairs five years from now, while 74 percent of Americans believed the opposite.

Germany asks capitals to give a little in EU budget impasse

European Parliament negotiators are demanding €39bn in new funding for EU programmes such as Horizon research and Erasmus, in talks with the German EU presidency on the budget. Meanwhile, rule-of-law enforcement negotiations have only just begun.

EU budget talks suspended in fight for new funds

MEPs are requesting additional, new funding of €39bn for 15 EU programs. The German presidency argues that budget ceilings, agreed by EU leaders at a marathon summit in July, will be impossible to change without a new leaders' meeting.

EU countries stuck on rule of law-budget link

Divisions among EU governments remain between those who want to suspend EU funds if rule of law is not respected, and those who want to narrow down conditionality.

MEPs warn of 'significant gaps' in budget talks

The budget committee chair said the European Parliament expects tangible improvements to the package in its talks with member states - while the German minister argued that the EU leaders' deal was difficult enough.

Top EU officials urge MEPs give quick budget-deal approval

MEPs criticised the EU deal on the budget and recovery package clinched by leaders after five days of gruelling talks, saying it is not enough "future-oriented", and cuts too deeply into EU policies, including health, innovation, defence and humanitarian aid

News in Brief

  1. Brexit talks pick up pace once more
  2. MEPs back US trade detente
  3. Iran diplomat to stand trial in Belgium over 'France bomb plot'
  4. Trump says he'll leave if Biden wins Electoral College vote
  5. EU Parliament: Polish abortion ban risks womens' lives
  6. UN experts warn against racial profiling
  7. EU auditors raise red flag over maritime protection
  8. Four students charged in France's beheading case

Budget deal struck, with Hungary threat still hanging

Ultimately, the European Parliament managed to squeeze an extra €16bn in total - which will be financed with competition fines the EU Commission hands out over the next seven years, plus reallocations within the budget.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  2. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  4. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector

Latest News

  1. Erdoğan jails hundreds for life, as EU weighs relations
  2. Italian energy giant director advising EU foreign policy chief
  3. Poland and Hungary say rule-of-law link needs treaty change
  4. Portuguese presidency to focus on social rights and India
  5. The under-reported power struggle at the top of the OSCE
  6. Poland hammered on women's rights in EU debate
  7. EU 'front-line' states want clearer migration rules
  8. Von der Leyen tells Poland and Hungary to go to court

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us