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25th Sep 2022

France most pessimistic about Europe, survey shows

  • French had the steepest drop in confidence over the past year (Photo: Moyan Brenn)

France has seen the steepest confidence drop in the EU and in national politicians alike, with the same sour mood in Italy, Spain and Greece, according to a Pew Research Centre survey published on Monday (13 May).

The poll - carried out in Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Czech republic - shows that overall support for the EU has fallen from 60 percent in 2012 to 45 percent this year.

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It revealed major differences between France and Germany, two of the EU’s biggest economies.

While France is still borrowing at low interest rates compared to other southern euro-countries, the mood inside France has soured dramatically over the past year.

Over 90 percent of French say their economy is doing badly - an increase of 10 percent since last year.

Another 67 percent think President Francois Hollande is doing a poor job handling the economic crisis, up 24 percent compared to Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

French anti-EU sentiment is also on the rise.

The EU is disliked by 58 percent compared to 40 percent in 2012, while 77 percent of French people believe European economic integration has made things worse for France, an increase of 14 points since last year.

French people now have less faith in the EU than the Italians or Spaniards.

Concerns about unemployment are almost as high in France as they are in Spain, Italy and Greece.

Germany, by contrast, is the only country where half the population is in favour of giving more powers to Brussels to deal with the economic crisis.

With its strong economy and positive outlook, Germany is growing increasingly estranged from the rest of Europe, the survey says.

"The increasing alienation of Germany from the rest of Europe is quite striking," Pew director Bruce Stokes told Reuters.

"The Germans seem to be living on a different continent than the French. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say they are living on a different planet," he added.

The leaders of the two countries differ wildly when it comes to political popularity.

Hollande’s approval ratings are nosediving, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the most popular leader in Europe.

Her approval rate in Germany, a few months before September elections, is at 74 percent.

With Germany the most economically powerful member state, the country is seen as the least compassionate nation by everybody except France, where Britain is seen as the least caring.

Meanwhile, from the German point of view, Greece and Italy are the least trustworthy.

For the French, Britain is viewed the most negatively. French people consider it to be the least trustworthy and the “most arrogant."

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