jueves, 22 de junio de 2017

Post-Brexit, Europeans More Favorable Toward EU

But many back empowering national governments on migration and trade, and they want their own vote on EU membership

(Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Recent years have seen turbulent shifts in public attitudes toward the European Union. Down just a year ago, before the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, public sentiment about the European project has rebounded. Even British voters, who narrowly elected to withdraw from the EU, have markedly improved their views of the Brussels-based institution.

But while few citizens on the European continent are eager to see their own country depart the EU, many want the chance to have their voice heard through their own referendum on EU membership. Moreover, frustrations with Brussels remain when it comes to economic management and dealing with the refugee issue. Asked whether they would like their national government to make decisions about the movement of people into their country and trade with other nations, roughly half or more across the countries surveyed answer, “Yes.”

These are some of the key findings from a new Pew Research Center survey, conducted among 9,935 respondents in France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom from March 2 to April 17, 2017. Together, these 10 European Union member states account for roughly 80% of the EU population and 84% of the EU economy.

When asked about the ramifications of the UK’s impending exit from the EU, publics in other member states generally agree that the British departure will be bad for the EU. They are less certain what Brexit will mean for the UK.

A median of just 18% in the nine continental EU nations surveyed want their own country to leave the EU. Greece and Italy are home to the largest support for exit, but even in these countries more than half want to remain a part of the European project.

That does not necessarily mean these publics are satisfied with the current state of affairs in Europe. Perhaps reflecting frustrations with whether their voices and concerns count in Brussels, a median of 53% across the nine European countries, excluding the UK, support having their own national referendums on continued EU membership. (For more on Europeans’ views on their voices being heard, see the Center’s 2014 survey “A Fragile Rebound for EU Image on Eve of European Parliament Elections.”)

In addition, many want national governments, rather than Brussels, to control future migration both from outside the EU (a median of 74% across the nine continental European nations polled) and within the EU (a median of 66%). Moreover, a median of 51% prefer that their own governments, not Brussels, negotiate future trade agreements with the rest of the world.

With Brexit looming, Germany’s influence in the EU is likely to grow. While Europeans have an overwhelmingly favorable view of Germany, a plurality (a median of 49%) believes Berlin has too much influence when it comes to decision-making in the EU.

Even as many Europeans want key powers to be transferred from Brussels to national capitals, local politics are far from stable. The past year has seen close, contentious elections in a number of EU member states, as well as newer political movements and parties outperforming established organizations. Overall, few political parties enjoy broad popular support. The survey asked about a total of 42 parties across the nations polled, and only five of those parties received a positive rating: two in Germany (the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats), two in the Netherlands (the People’s Party and the Socialists) and the Swedish Social Democratic Party. Ratings are especially grim in Greece, where no party is seen favorably by even a quarter of the public. Parties on the far right – such as France’s National Front and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) – generally get relatively low ratings.

1. EU back in favor, but Brussels’ handling of economy and refugees still questioned

By Bruce Stokes, Richard Wike and Dorothy Manevich

Compared with a year ago, the European Union has rebounded dramatically from its recent slump in public approval. Majorities in nine of 10 EU member states, including 74% in Poland, 68% in Germany, 67% in Hungary and 65% in Sweden, now hold a favorable view of the institution. The lone dissenter is Greece (33%), which has been subject to EU-imposed austerity. Even in the UK, where just a year ago voters narrowly chose to leave the EU, 54% now voice a positive opinion of the European project. (For more on UK public opinion, see “British Divided on Brexit Impact as New Elections Loom.”)

Trends from last year reveal a sharp rebound in views of the EU in a number of countries: up 18 percentage points in Germany and France, 15 points in Spain, 13 points in the Netherlands and 10 points in the UK. This upswing is the latest shift in an up-and-down cycle over the past decade.

Younger Europeans, who have never known a world without the European project, hold particularly positive views of the Brussels-based organization. A median of 73% of those ages 18 to 29 have a favorable opinion of it, compared with a median of 58% of those ages 50 and older. The generation gap is largest in the UK (33 percentage points between young and old), the Netherlands (23 points) and France (22 points).

Publics are also sharply divided along ideological lines in their views of the EU. For the most part, people who place themselves on the left of the political spectrum are more favorably disposed toward the EU, at least compared with people on the right. This gap is 43 points in the UK, 37 points in Italy, 20 points in Poland and 19 points in Germany. Notably, in Spain, the right has a significantly more positive view of the EU, resulting in a gap of 24 points.

As might be expected, most adherents of Euroskeptic parties do not share the generally positive view of the EU. In the UK, just 31% of those who voice a favorable assessment of UKIP hold a favorable opinion of the EU. And just 41% of the public that expresses a favorable view of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands see Brussels positively, as do 40% of those who favor the National Front in France and 40% of those who look favorably on the Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) in Germany.

A party’s criticism of the European Union does not, however, always mean its adherents share that negative view of Brussels. In Italy, 61% of those who look favorably on the Euroskeptic Five Star Movement have a positive view of the EU. In Poland, where the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is in a long-running feud with the EU, 65% of Poles who see PiS favorably still hold a positive opinion of the institution.
Economic confidence rebounds

Improved opinion of the EU coincides with renewed economic confidence in most of the European countries surveyed. In recent years, many Europeans have been dispirited about economic conditions in their country. Now, as the economy in a number of nations has begun to recover, the public mood is brightening. Nearly nine-in-ten Dutch (87%) believe economic conditions are good, as do nearly two-thirds of the Poles (64%). That’s a 25-percentage-point increase in the Netherlands and a 15-point increase in Poland from 2016. And, while only 28% of the Spanish say their economy is doing well, their views are also up 15 points. Even in Germany (86%) and Sweden (84%), where publics have felt good about their economic situation for some time, this year such sentiment is up 11 points in Germany and 8 points in Sweden. Only in Italy (15%) has the economic mood worsened, down 18 points in the past year. In Greece, meanwhile, the public’s economic assessment remains dismal. (For more on views of the economy in Europe and around the world, see “Global Publics More Upbeat About the Economy.”)

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