EU elections: The iron rule of economic growth and popular support

These figures come from an analysis by the Pew Research Center, a non-profit organization that is by far the US most respected institution in the field of analysis of the public opinion. On May 12, the Pew Research Center published the results of a survey of 7,022 people in Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Poland, and Greece during March and April. The study proved that the perception of the EU is linked to the performance of national economies in the crisis.

 

Germany and Poland are by far those who have a more favorable view of the EU, while Greece leads the Euro-pessimistic block, followed by Italy and Spain. France seems somewhat in between. The United Kingdom proves, once again, that the state of the economy is critical for a nation’s attitude towards the UE: in just one year, the Britons’ support to the economic effects of the UE has risen by fifteen points, and the UK’s vision of the EU has improved by nine. Too much for Britain’s supposed level headedness.

 

In the Spanish case, the disenchantment with the EU is astonishing. 68 percent of people believe that “my vote does not count in Brussels”; 65 percent claims that the EU “does not understand the needs of citizens”; and 63 percent that the EU is “inefficient.” The European Central Bank (ECB) has a dismal 24 percent support, six points below the European Commission and eight below the European Parliament.

 

So, is there any hope for Europe?

 

Yes.

 

First of all, the Pew study shows that the economy is key. In Spain, for instance, popular support to the European Union has started to grow—albeit at a glacial pace—since last year the recession hit bottom.

Second, even if the specifics of the European Union—its politics and institutions—receive an ‘F’ grade, the support for the idea of the EU integration is surprisingly resilient. 50 percent of Spaniards have a positive view of the EU, and larger majorities in almost every country support the euro and value European Union and an agent for the good in the international stage.

 

The Pew Research Center study proves that Europe as an idea is popular, in spiote of the crisis, but Europe as a set of institutions is not. The solution to ‘Europhobia’, then, is in the hands of the European leaders.

About the Author

Pablo Pardo
Pablo Pardo is Washington DC correspondent of El Mundo. Journalist especialized in International Economics and Politics.

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