Public support for EU rising ahead of elections
By Benjamin Fox
Public support for the European Union is seeing a gradual recovery, just in time for next week's European Parliament elections, according to a new survey of seven EU nations.
The study by the Pew Research Centre, a Washington-based think tank, found that more than 50 percent of Europeans had a favourable image of the EU, up from 46 percent in 2013.
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The EU's four largest member states - Germany, France, the UK and Italy - as well as Spain, Poland and Greece were the countries surveyed.
But politicians hoping that a rebound in public support for the EU will be reflected by results at the ballot box may be disappointed. Two thirds of voters, who have the chance to go to the polls next week, agreed with statements that the EU's institutions do not understand the needs of their citizens' or listen to their voice.
The number of people saying that they viewed the EU favourably increased in six of the seven countries surveyed, with a 13 percent spike in support in France, the most significant rise.
Conversely, Italians appear to be increasingly disgruntled with 46 percent, down from 58 percent last year, viewing the EU favourably.
Fears of a north/south divide also appear to be borne out in the survey: 34 percent of Greeks and 50 percent of Spaniards view the EU favourably, compared to 66 percent and 72 percent in Germany and Poland, respectively.
Economic sentiments are also more positive in the EU's northern member states.
That said, all countries bar Italy registered strong majorities in favour of remaining in the euro.
"The euro crisis that began in 2008 dealt a savage blow to the image of the European Union ... But views of the EU and the European project may have begun to recover in the past year," the report said.
Meanwhile, a Eurobarometer poll also released on Monday (12 May) indicated a small over half of Europeans (53%) say that they are positive about the future of the EU
But a small majority of Europeans still fear that worse is still to come in terms of employment prospects in the EU, 49 percent of those survey said that dealing with the record levels of unemployment across the bloc should be the main policy priority.