Thursday

24th Jun 2021

Irish people most optimistic on EU future

  • Christmas shopping in Dublin: With the economy back to growth, Irish people are the most optimistic about the EU's future (Photo: Michael Foley)

Most Europeans believe the EU faces a brighter future, according to a new Eurobarometer poll which also says Irish people are the bloc’s greatest optimists.

Nearly eight in 10 Irish citizens said they were optimistic about the EU’s future, slightly higher than 75 percent in Malta, and 74 percent in Poland and Romania, respectively.

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Having exited a €67 billion EU bailout last December, Ireland now has the fastest growing economy in the EU and is expected to see further growth of nearly 5 percent in 2015.

Meanwhile, Greeks, Cypriots, and Italians were the only three countries where a majority of voters were pessimistic about the EU’s future, in Greece’s case by a 60 percent to 38 percent margin.

Voters from the 28 EU countries were surveyed in November as part of Eurobarometer’s Autumn poll.

Poles had the most favourable view of the EU, with six in 10, followed by 59 percent of Romanians, 53 percent in Ireland, and just over half in Bulgaria and Luxembourg.

Across the bloc, 39 percent had a positive view of the EU, while 37 percent have a neutral image and 22 percent a negative image.

Greeks and Cypriots also had the dimmest view of the EU.

The high level of unemployment remains the greatest concern among most Europeans, followed by the economic situation.

After a disappointing year, the eurozone economy is expected to expand by 0.8 percent in 2014, while joblessness across the bloc remains almost unchanged at 12 percent.

Immigration was named by 18 percent of respondents as the most important issue facing the EU but was named as the most important in Malta, where it was named by 57 percent of those surveyed, and the UK and Germany. Both the British and German governments have unveiled plans to crack down on so-called welfare tourism over the past year.

May’s European election campaign appears to have had an impact on the number of Europeans believing that they have a say in EU decision making, which increased by over 10 points to 40 percent.

However more than half (53 percent) still say that their voice doesn't count.

Despite the European Parliament’s increased powers and the 'Spitzenkandidat’ experiment, which saw the main political groups pick a candidate for Commission president, turnout was still fractionally down at 42 percent.

In the same Eurobarometer survey taken last year, most Europeans felt they had no voice in decision making by a 66 percent to 29 percent margin.

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