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Time to leave the EU?

Growing Euro-Scepticism

A new international study reveals: More than a quarter of Europeans feel less European than just one year ago. A similar number would even vote in favour of an EU-exit, if they had to cast their vote in a national referendum the following day.

A recent survey in 13 European countries focused on whether respondents had felt more European or further removed from Europe over the last 12 months. The survey was conducted by leading global market research network WIN at the end of last year. As the German network partner, market research company Produkt + Markt, based in Wallenhorst near Osnabrück, carried out the survey in Germany.

Given the ongoing economic crisis, growing support for eurosceptic parties and the resurgence of nationalist tendencies in many countries, it is no surprise that 26 per cent of all Europeans feel less European than they did a year ago. Only 14 per cent feel closer to Europe than previously. In Germany, somewhat fewer people consider themselves to be less European, at 21 per cent. The Greeks feel most removed from Europe, with 52 per cent stating that they feel less European. At 43 per cent, the British also sent out a strongly eurosceptic signal.

Only in Denmark, Iceland and Finland do those who feel more European outnumber the respondents who feel less so. In addition to establishing the general mood across Europe, the survey also covered other controversial issues. Asked whether they would vote for their country to remain in the European Union or leave it if there were a referendum tomorrow, 30 per cent of respondents across Europe said that they would vote to leave the EU.

In Germany, 27 per cent would vote to leave, with 73 per cent opting to remain in the European Union. Educational background proved particularly relevant in Germany in determining how this question was answered: 43 per cent of Germans with a low level of education were in favour of the country leaving the EU, whereas among respondents with a university degree only 18 per cent would vote for Germany to exit the European Union.

The widely differing responses between the individual countries raise questions of interpretation. 77 per cent of those surveyed in Ireland would vote for their country to remain in the EU, possibly in response to the fact that the country was successfully bailed out by the EU. Spain may also be feeling grateful, with only 17 per cent of those polled being in favour of leaving the EU. The only country in which more people would vote to leave the EU than to remain a member was not Greece, but the UK. 51 per cent of Brits would leave the European Union tomorrow.

By contrast, the question as to who is mainly responsible for the current economic crisis saw agreement across Europe. 29 per cent of all Europeans consider that the blame lies primarily with the banks. In Germany, the figure is even higher, at 33 per cent. It is only a short step from distrusting banks to euroscepticism – if they had the choice, 44 per cent of all Europeans would prefer their own national currency. In Germany, those committed to the euro (47 per cent) marginally outweigh those in favour of the Deutsche Mark.


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