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13th Apr 2024

Wider Europe shares Cameron's EU vision

  • The support for EU was highest in Polish (72%) and Hungarian (61%) society, even though the Polish and Hungarian governments keep butting heads with the EU. (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Most Europeans believe it would be bad for the EU if the UK left, but many also want EU institutions to have fewer powers, according to a new poll.

Forty two percent of people in 10 EU states surveyed by the Pew Research Center said they wanted some EU powers returned to capitals, the pollster said on Tuesday (7 June).

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  • Cameron's call for powers to be returned to national capitals was backed by 42% of Europeans. Just 19% favoured giving Brussels more power (Photo: consillium.europa.eu)

A mere 19 percent favoured giving more power to Brussels, while 27 percent were happy with the status quo.

Seventy percent of people in nine EU states surveyed (not including the UK results) said it would be bad for the EU if the UK left, Pew said.

Just 16 percent said it would be a good thing if the UK left.

The 10 states surveyed were France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Fifty one percent of people in the 10 countries said they had a favourable view of the European Union.

The wafer thin majority comes after steep falls in EU support in France (down 17% from last year) and Spain (16%), as well as Germany (8%), the UK (7%) and Italy (6%).

Just 27 percent of Greeks and 38 percent of French people had a favourable opinion of the EU.

Forty four percent of Brits, including 53 percent of Scottish people, favoured the union.

EU support was highest among Polish (72%) and Hungarian (61%) people, even though the current Polish and Hungarian governments keep butting heads with the EU.

Generation gaps

In the UK, young people (aged 18 to 34) are more pro-European than older people (over 50), Pew added.

Elsewhere in Europe, older people are also losing faith in the project. In France, EU backing among older people fell 19 points. In Spain it declined 16 points and in Germany 11 points since last year.

The loss of support is linked to the refugee crisis and the aftermath of the economic crisis.

Ninety four percent of Greeks, 88 percent of Swedes and 77 percent of Italians said the EU has mishandled migration.

Ninety two percent of Greeks disliked its bailout and austerity policies. Roughly two-thirds of Italians, French people and Spanish people felt the same.

Internal splits

The Pew findings come ahead of the UK referendum on EU membership on 23 June.

They indicate that UK prime minister David Cameron’s vision of limited EU integration is widely shared in Europe.

But the EU debate has exposed deep divisions in the British PM’s ruling Conservative party.

Party fragmentation is also a trend reflected in the rest of Europe, the Pew survey showed.

In France, 30 percent of the far-right National Front party’s supporters were pro-EU. In Spain, one in three supporters (32%) of the left-wing Podemos party also favoured the union.

In Italy, 58 percent of the anti-EU Five Star Movement party’s voters held positive EU views.

In Poland, where the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is locked in a dispute with the European Commission, 67 percent of PiS supporters held a favourable opinion of the Brussels institutions.

The survey was conducted in 10 EU nations among 10,491 respondents from 4 April to 12 May this year. The 10 countries account for 80 percent of the EU’s total population and 82 percent of its combined GDP.

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