Monday

25th Mar 2019

Europeans more positive about EU, survey shows

  • Respondents were asked: Does your voice count in the EU? 47% said yes, 48% said no. (Photo: European Parliament)

Europeans increasingly believe that their voice matters in European affairs, a study ordered by the European Parliament showed on Wednesday (18 October).

The survey results showed that 47 percent of respondents felt "their voice counts in the EU", which is the highest level since June 2009.

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  • In the UK, some 55% said their country benefited from EU membership. (Photo: Guled Ahmed)

Inversely, 48 percent said they felt their voice did not count. This was the lowest in eight years.

The study was carried out by Kantar Public, which interviewed 27,881 Europeans in September and October.

More Europeans (61 percent) think their voice counted at the national level, but Romanian and Lithuanian respondents said they thought their voice counted more at the EU level than at home.

Membership of the EU is also supported by the majority of respondents.

Just like the survey from six months earlier, 57 percent of the answers said that their country's membership of the EU is "a good thing". That was almost as high as in 2007, when 58 percent agreed with the statement. Over the past decade, May 2011 saw the lowest percentage of people agreeing (47 percent).

Some 28 percent thought their country's membership was neither good or bad, while 12 percent - the lowest in ten years - said membership was a bad thing.

The survey also included interviews in the UK, which is due to leave the EU by March 2019.

Britons happy with EU 'on balance'

While lower than the EU average, a good 55 percent of UK respondents said that "taking everything into account", the UK has "on balance" benefited from EU membership.

That was a more positive review of the EU than the one given by citizens from Austria (53 percent), Greece (48 percent), Cyprus (45 percent) and Italy (39 percent).

Irish respondents were most positive, with 90 percent saying their country had benefited.

In Poland, 84 percent said their country had benefited, while in Hungary 72 percent agreed with that notion.

The EU average was 64 percent - the highest in a decade.

However, there are differing reasons for thinking that EU membership has been beneficial.

For example, both in Denmark and Estonia, 81 percent of respondents said their country benefited.

But in Denmark, the main reason was because it allowed Denmark to cooperate with other EU countries, whereas Estonians saw more of a benefit in the EU's contribution to economic growth.

The researchers also asked what EU objective should be protected.

Interestingly, the most frequent answer in the UK (46 percent) was the freedom to travel, work and study across the EU - a right which featured prominently in the referendum campaign ahead of the UK's decision to leave, and one Britons are expected to lose after Brexit.

Respondents in the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, and Germany, tended to say that fundamental rights and freedoms were the most important, while Mediterranean countries most often mentioned labour rights.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

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