Friday

22nd Sep 2017

Euroscepticism in decline, poll indicates

  • More than 50 percent of Europeans support election of the EU Commission President (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Euroscepticism is receding amongst Europeans who also want EU lawmakers to promote job creation and welfare schemes ahead of debt reduction,according to a poll published Thursday (6 September).

According the eurobarometer poll, 40 percent reported a positive image of the EU, up 9 percent from the previous poll in November. Eurosceptic sentiment across the 27-country bloc has fallen from 26 percent to 23 percent. Meanwhile, 50 percent regard their country's EU membership as a positive thing compared to 31 percent of naysayers.

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Britons remain the most eurosceptic with 36 percent having a negative view of the EU compared to 22 percent viewing it in a positive light. However, the negative figure is down from 49 percent in November 2011.

The poll also suggests that citizens want governments and the EU to prioritise job creation programmes over austerity driven efforts to cut public debt, with 72 percent of respondents putting employment and welfare programmes ahead of 37 percent calling for attention to focus on fiscal consolidation.

When asked about policies they would like to see pursued at EU level 44 percent of interviewees said that a more harmonised social welfare system would “strengthen (their) feeling of being a European citizen”.

MEPs and pro-EU campaigners will also welcome the results indicating that the parliament is the most identified of the EU institutions, with 53 percent identifying the parliament against 27 percent and 25 percent for the commission and European Central Bank. Only one in ten could identify the European Council as an EU institution.

In addition, 71 percent of respondents agreed that the Parliament played an “important” role in the running of the EU.

There were also signs that voters have a grasp of the co-decision process of adopting EU legislation, with three in five agreeing with statements that the EU budget and European laws have to be agreed jointly by the European Parliament and the member states.

The detailed survey, “Two years to go to the European elections” was commissioned by the European Parliament and carried out through face-to-face interviews in June.

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A day before UK PM Theresa May sets out her Brexit strategy in Florence, top EU negotiator Michel Barnier told lawmakers in Rome: there can be no transitional deal for the UK without a withdrawal agreement.

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