1st Mar 2024

Spanish and Italians more positive about EU

  • Spain's anti-austerity movement, the Indignados, had little love for EU policies (Photo: tom.tziros)

Spaniards and Italians feel much more positively about the EU than they did a year ago, new research shows, but Germans' fondness for it has taken a dip.

Sixty-three percent of Spanish feel "favourable" towards the European Union, up from 50 percent in 2014, while Italian support jumped by 18 points (from 46% to 64%), a new survey by Pew Research Centre published Tuesday (2 June) shows.

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The poll, across the six largest member states accounting for 70 percent of the bloc's population, shows that Poles remain most positive about the EU (72% find it favourable), that Britons remain the least convinced (51%), and that over half of French (55%) like it.

While 58 percent of Germans are also positive about the EU, this represents an eight point drop since this time last year.

About the same percentage of Germans (59%) believe that EU economic integration has strengthened their country's economy - Germany runs a large trade surplus with the rest of Europe - but only 11 percent of Italians and 31 percent of French - both of whose countries are on Brussels' radar for breaching EU debt rules - believe the same.

Across all six countries the percentage of those thinking children will be financially worse off than their parents is far greater than those thinking they will be better off, but the French (85%) are the most pessimist about the economic prospects of the next generation.

The six nationalities are also generally pessimistic on the question of whether their economy will improve in the coming year - ranging from 42 percent of Spanish betting on an economic upturn, to 20 percent in France and 16 percent of Poles.

Their views on the current state of their country's economy saw the starkest contrasts in the survey. While three quarters of Germans believe the economy is "good", this dropped to 14 percent and 12 percent in France and Italy.

But while the French and Italian sentiment about the economy is an improvement on last year, Germans are less confident than in 2014 when 85 percent had a rosy view of the economy.

The percentage of those wanting to stay in the euro went up or remained the same since 2014 in the four surveyed countries that have the single currency, but Italy has the highest percentage (37%) of those wanting to return to the national currency.

The survey - conducted in April - also revealed that most Britons (55%) want to remain in the EU - up from half last year - with the UK to hold a membership referendum by the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, respondents were also asked their views on the rise of non-establishment parties, a phenomenon that has hit all six polled countries as well as several other member states.

Populist parties

French respondents - asked specifically about the far-right National Front - predominantly (63%) found it a "bad thing" for the country.

Poland, asked about the Congress of the New Right, was the only other country where a majority of respondents thought the newcomer party was more negative (39%) than positive (36%).

In Spain reaction was largely in favour (70%) of the left-wing Podemos while two-thirds of Britons thought the anti-EU Ukip was good for the country. Fifty eight percent of Italians thought so of the populist Five-Star movement and half of Germans of the anti-euro AfD party.

Roma viewed least favourably

The poll also revealed that while Jews and Muslims were viewed favourably by the majority of those surveyed in all six countries (France saw the strongest support for both Jews (92%) and Muslims (76%) ), the same is not true of Roma.

Eighty-six percent of Italians and 60 percent of French and almost half (48%) of Poles and a third of Germans (34%) have an unfavourable view of Roma.

Italy also had the highest percentage (61%) of respondents viewing Muslims negatively and Poland the highest percentage (28%) with unfavourable views of Jews.


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