Friday

9th Jun 2023

New survey shows drop in EU optimism in Latvia, Austria and UK

A eurobarometer survey to be unveiled next week shows a drop in support for EU membership in Latvia, Austria and the UK, with economic and social concerns on top of people's agendas for the future of Europe.

According to the poll, seen by the EUobserver, almost one in two Europeans (49%) think their country's membership in the EU is "a good thing," with Luxembourg (71%), the Netherlands (71%) and Ireland (68%) featuring as the greatest EU optimists.

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Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Slovakia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Greece are also above the average rate, while Finland (36%), the UK (33%), Austria (31%) and Latvia (29%) stand at the bottom of the table.

The two countries that rejected the EU constitution last year - a move which sparked the whole new debate about where the bloc should be heading - feature with contrasting scores: France with 44 percent and the Netherlands with 71 percent.

The special eurobarometer on the "future of Europe" has also revealed that citizens view the union as modern and democratic (67%), but almost half of the respondents think it is technocratic (49%) and inefficient (43%).

Economic and social concerns

While a high number of people praise peace among the member states (60%) and free movement (56%) as the EU's greatest achievements, the bloc is not seen as performing well in curbing unemployment which is the single most crucial issue for Europeans, according to the survey.

That sentiment is also portrayed in opinions about what the EU should focus on in future.

For 51% of respondents "the most helpful thing" for Europe to succeed would be comparable living standards, followed by the introduction of the euro in all member states (26%) and a common constitution (25%).

Similarly, a "European social welfare system" would be a key element to strengthen people's feeling "about being a European citizen" for 32% respondents, with six in ten citizens favouring harmonization of the bloc's welfare systems, mainly in central and eastern Europe, such as Poland (86%), Latvia (82%) and Hungary (81%).

On the other hand, several western European countries feature as the most pessimistic on globalisation with 72 percent of the French and Greeks viewing it as a "threat," followed by Belgians (64%) and Germans (59%).

Although the fear of globalisation is associated with competition from low labour cost countries - highlighted as key outcomes of the latest EU's enlargement - a majority of Europeans (55%) still consider the bloc's expansion as "something positive."

However, 63% of respondents fear that further enlargement would increase problems on their national job market and only a minority (34%) believe that product prices fell due to the EU's widening.

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