The American think tank, the Pew Research Center recently conducted a study focusing on attitudes to the EU. And what were its findings? Close to 45 per cent of respondents, in the eight countries where research was undertaken, support the EU. A year earlier, the figure for this indicator was 60 per cent. France stood out as the country with the gloomiest mood, and the one where the number of Eurosceptics had increased by 18 per cent in a year; 58 per cent of French citizens said they lacked confidence in today’s Europe. Our Polish neighbours partially compensated for this loss with 68 per cent in favour of the EU. However, over the border in the Czech Republic, the opposite is the case with the same number unfavourable.
“Disappointment with regard to the EU can largely be explained by the economic situation, and this is particularly the case in Eurozone countries, where people definitely see a link between precarity, the single currency, and decisions the EU has taken to save it,” explains Ramunas Vilpisauskas, the director of IIRPS, Vilnius University’s Institute of International Relations and Political Science. “In some countries, for example in Lithuania, people have less confidence in national institutions than they do in those of the EU. Having said that, there are many countries where confidence in both national and European institutions is in free fall: Greece is an extreme example. People have already expressed their disappointment in national votes, and they may opt to do the same in next year’s European parliamentary elections,” he remarks.
During Lithuania’s presidency, in spite of the population’s support for the European Union, it will be difficult to improve the EU’s image. “Small states have difficulty looking after the EU’s image, in particular because of their lack of resources,” remarks Kęstutis Girnius.
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