MS Risk Blog

Survey Shows Europeans Warm Again to EU after Brexit Vote

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A survey released this month has indicated that Europeans think much better of the European Union (EU) now than they did a year ago, when Britons voted to leave the bloc.

The Washington-based Pew Research Centre carried out a survey in 10 of the 28 members – the six biggest EU states and four of the next eight most populous. The survey however did not study reasons for changes in mood. The survey has found that support has surged by eighteen percentage points in both Germany and France, which just elected pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron as president. Sixty-eight percent of Germans and fifty-six percent of French had favourable views of the EU this spring. Even the British hold a much more favourable opinion of the EU, with 54 percent of them now viewing the EU positively. This is up ten points on a year ago. Forty percent view the EU unfavourable. In June 2016, Britons voted 52 percent to 48 for Brexit, with negotiations on leaving the bloc beginning on 19 June.

The latest survey also indicated that in none of the other nine countries that were surveyed did more than 35 percent of people want their country to leave the EU. Of those, the Italians, at 56 percent, and the Greeks were the least enthusiastic. Furthermore, despite growing frication between their nationalist governments and Brussels, people in Poland and Hungary remain amongst the keenest EU citizens. The survey also recorded more approval for the bloc’s handling of the economy and migration – two areas where anger has long been directed at Brussels. An EU deal with Turkey a year ago has stemmed chaotic migrant arrivals and along with income growth, opinions about the economy have improved – with the exception of Greece and Italy, where the proportion of people saying that their economy is in good shape declined by eighteen points to 15 percent. A huge 87 percent of the Dutch, whom eurosceptics failed to win over heavily in a March election, think that their economy is doing well. This is up by 25 points from a year ago. There was a 15-point upturn in Spain, even if still only 28 percent have a positive view.

Pew researchers wrote in a report that “the European Union has rebounded dramatically from its recent slump in public approval,” noting an “up-and-down cycle over the past decade.” The findings, which are in line with other research, will hearten EU leaders who are due to meet this month. Some had initially feared that the bloc’s survival was in doubt after the Brexit vote and following grave crises in the euro zone economy and irregular immigration.