21st Nov 2017

One third of EU citizens unaware of European Constitution

With several member states beginning the long path to ratification of the European Constitution, a new poll has shown that a high percentage of EU citizens feel they know little about its content and a third are completely unaware of the document.

A eurobarometer poll due to be published next week, and obtained by the EUobserver, says that just 11 percent of EU citizens have heard of the Constitution and feel they know its contents.

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  • Blissfully unaware? (Photo: European Commission)

Thirty-three percent have never heard of the new EU charter which was signed with great ceremony last year and is to be put to a referendum in at least nine member states - starting in Spain next month.

In individual member states, the figures are higher - 50% of Britons, 45% of Irish and 39% of Portuguese are unaware of the document.

"These figures might change with the intensification of the public debate", suggests eurobarometer in notes adjoining the statistics.

There is also a high lack of knowledge about what is in the 460-article treaty agreed by EU governments last June.

Only 39% of citizens know that the Constitution does not foresee the creation of a direct European tax; meanwhile only 38% of respondents know that the President of the European Council will not be directly elected by citizens and only 38% are aware of the petition right.

Overall, 56% say they know very little about it contents.

The highest rate of correct answers to the six items tested occurred in Finland, Denmark, Belgium and Slovenia.

More Britons against than in favour

The UK, which many feel may reject the Constitution in its planned referendum next year, has among the most extreme results.

At 30%, it has the most people against the Constitution; while, at 20%, the least in favour of the document.

This contrasts strongly with Italy and Belgium where the figures in favour are 72% and 70% respectively.

Sixty-seven per cent of citizens in Ireland and Cyprus meanwhile answered "don't know" when asked about their attitudes towards the Constitution.

Information campaign

Socialists MEPs have called for an information campaign across Europe on the back of these results.

"In order to have a successful campaign for the Yes, the level of information has clearly got to be improved", said UK labour MEP Richard Corbett.

Dutch Socialist MEP Jan Marinus Wiersma said "My overall impression is that there is still intensive effort necessary to inform everybody".

The Constitution, which will introduce an EU foreign minister, a permanent chair of the EU and greater powers to the European Parliament, has to be ratified by all 25 member states before it can come into force.

The poll was carried out between October and November last year by TNS Opinion/EOS Gallup Europe and 24,786 citizens were surveyed.

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