15th Apr 2024

EU public blames own governments for bad economy

Amid increasing signs of a worsening European economy, a survey has found that citizens in large EU countries are mainly blaming their own governments, but the European Central Bank is also becoming a target for discontent.

The IMF is to shave its July estimate for the eurozone's growth this year from 1.7 percent to 1.4 percent in its autumn World Economic Outlook due in October, according to an official quoted by Reuters, while cutting its 2009 forecast from 1.2 percent to 0.9 percent.

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  • The IMF is to shave its estimate for the eurozone's growth (Photo: European Community)

On a global basis, the Washington-based body predicts the world economy will slow down further in the second half of the year and achieve a growth rate of only 3.9 percent rather than 4.1 percent as earlier expected.

While the US forecast was left unchanged for this year, the IMF also suspects a further downturn in 2009, shaving its outlook to 0.7 percent from 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Harris agency conducted for Financial Times and published on Tuesday (26 August) showed that citizens in countries most affected by the economic downturn overwhelmingly put the blame on their own governments.

German leaders received the toughest criticism, with 74 percent of Germans polled saying their government held "complete" or "a lot of" responsibility. While 63 percent of Brits thought the same about their decision-makers, in Spain the figure was lowest, at 53 percent.

ECB in firing line

In continental Europe, however, criticism was also aimed at the European Central Bank (ECB), in charge of monetary policy for the 15-strong club of countries using the euro.

Only 5 percent of the Spanish and 8 percent of Germans said ECB had responded appropriately to worsening economic conditions, while 56 and 48 percent respectively in both countries felt it had not.

At a higher political level, much of the criticism towards the Frankfurt-based bank comprises frustration at decisions to maintain a strong euro harming European exporters, as well as to raise interest rates despite signs of a looming economic downturn.

But the Harris poll - conducted online between 30 July and 12 August among 6,134 adults in France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Italy and the US - found that in France, where politicians spoke out most loudly against the ECB's moves, the bank seems to enjoy slightly better public support than in Germany, Spain or Italy.

The ECB representatives have defended their decisions as a way to keep a lid on rising inflation, with its annual average at a historic high of 4.1 percent in July - according to Eurostat flash estimates, compared to the bank's general goal of keeping it close to 2 percent.

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