Poll: EU and euro lose popularity, but no one will leave

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

The eurozone continues to spiral into chaos as investors and creditors begin to see Spain as the latest threat to the common currency’s stability, and Europeans are losing confidence in the currency union, the central bank and the European Union itself.

A new poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that a growing number of Europeans think the currency union has not been good for their countries and are more skeptical of the European Central Bank.

Majorities in five countries now believe that the economic integration of Europe has weakened their national economies. Seventy percent of Greeks, 63 percent of French, 61 percent of Italians and 61 percent of British citizens believe that economic integration has hurt them.

Germany, the country with the EU’s largest economy, stands in stark contrast with 59 percent saying that economic integration has helped their country.

Most European countries have seen huge declines since 2009 in the number of people who believe EU membership has been a good thing.

Only Spain and Germany have majorities who still think EU membership is a good thing, with 54 percent and 65 percent, respectively. Only Germany has seen an increase in the number of people who see EU membership as a good thing — with 65 percent in 2012, up from 63 percent in 2009.

The debt crisis has also led more people to become skeptical of the currency union. A plurality in Italy (44 percent), France (40 percent) and Spain (41 percent) now say adopting the euro has been a bad thing.

Strong majorities in countries that didn’t join the euro now say they are glad to be outside of the currency union. Seventy-three percent of people in the United Kingdom, 62 percent in the Czech Republic and 54 percent in Poland say that not having the euro has been a good thing.

Alongside skepticism of the euro is an unpopular central bank. Only Poland has a majority (54 percent) of people with a favorable view of the ECB. France, Germany, Spain and Greece all have majorities of people with an unfavorable view of the ECB, with Greece outpacing the rest with 80 percent holding an unfavorable view.

Despite the depth of the crisis and fears surrounding the stability of the EU, most people in five of the surveyed countries hold favorable views toward the EU and no country surveyed that has the euro wants to dump it.

Favorability toward the EU as an institution has decreased in six countries, with decreases in Spain and the Czech Republic of 20 percentage points since 2007. Even France has seen EU favorability decline three percentage points in the last year alone, from 63 percent to 60 percent. Only 34 percent of people in the Czech Republic, 37 percent in Greece, and 45 percent in Britain have a favorable view of the EU.

Furthermore, strong majorities in the five surveyed countries using the euro want to keep it. Seventy-one percent in Greece, 69 percent in France, 66 percent in Germany, 60 percent in Spain and 52 percent in Italy want to keep the euro. However, it’s unclear how countries like Spain and Greece will proceed given the depth of their debt and financial woes.

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