24th Jun 2017

Irish most happy, Brits most unhappy with EU

  • "Citizens have seen too much of selfish interest by member states", the commission said. (Photo: EUobserver)

Support for the EU is declining among the union's citizens, according to a new commission survey, while Europeans generally back the idea of an EU constitution and reject Turkish EU accession.

The "Autumn Standard Eurobarometer", presented on Tuesday (20 December) reveals that an average of 50 percent of European citizens consider EU membership of their country "a good thing", down from 54 percent in spring this year.

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The survey, conducted in October and November, is the first commission poll on EU citizens' opinion of the EU since the French and Dutch rejection of the Constitution in May and June, as well as the breakdown of the June summit on the bloc's 2007-2013 budget.

European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom, responsible for the EU's communication strategy, acknowledged that perceptions of the union had suffered from these events.

"Citizens have seen too much of selfish interest by member states, too little vision and solidarity," she said in a statement.

Of the 25 member states, Austria and the UK appear the most eurosceptic, with just 32 percent of Austrians and 33 percent of Brits saying EU membership is a good thing for their country, followed by Latvia (36 percent), Finland (38 percent) and Sweden and Hungary (both 39 percent).

On the other side of the coin are the union's greatest supporters, Luxembourg (82 percent) and Ireland (73 percent).

Remarkably, in the Netherlands, a country that overwhelmingly rejected a European constitution in June, a whole 70 percent of citizens say that EU membership is a good thing.

Only 32 percent of Swedes say they perceive that their country has "benefited from EU membership", closely followed by the Austrians and the British with 36 and 37 percent discontent citizens.

On the other side of the scope is - again - Ireland where 86 percent of citizens claim to enjoy Brussels's treats, and 69 percent of the Danes are as happy.

Idea of constitution supported

Despite the referendum failure in France and the Netherlands in May and June, support for a European Constitution has increased in the bloc of 25, with a majority of EU citizens in favour of a redraft of the faded constitution.

63 percent of EU citizens believe that the EU will work better with a constitution in place, an increase from before the French and Dutch referenda, when 61 percent claimed they were in favour of a constitution.

A new constitution should be sketched out, say 49 percent, while 22 percent think the ratification process for the current constitution draft should continue no matter the French and Dutch 'no' votes, and 13 percent believe the constitution should be scrapped.

Among French and Dutch citizens, 67 percent and 62 percent of respondents respectively said they back the idea of a constitution.

"The Eurobarometer survey shows that there is a positive mood about the constitution," a European Commission spokesman said.

"These results will be a valid contribution to the period of reflection on the constitution ahead of the next EU summit in June", he said.

EU citizens turn Turkey down

The number of Europeans opposed to further enlargement has grown since the spring, from 38 percent to 39 percent, with Austria, Germany and France in particular concerned about expansion, and Greece, Slovakia and Poland most in favour.

The Eurobarometer poll indicates that the number of people supporting full Turkish accession to the EU is a moderate 31 percent, while resistance reaches 55 percent of EU citizens.

Meanwhile, support for EU membership among Turks themselves has dropped from 66 percent in spring to 52 percent this autumn, while 77 percent of Europeans back Swiss and Norwegian accession.

EU extends sanctions on Russia

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia hadn't done enough to implement the so-called Minsk peace process, a condition for lifting the sanctions.


UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'

British academics want to guarantee residency and work rights for their EU staff, as well as "enhanced mobility opportunities" for UK and EU students, mostly by keeping British participation in EU funding programs.

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