Europe's citizens believe in the EU despite crises

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Europe's citizens believe in the EU despite crises

Over the past decade, the EU has experienced the biggest turbulence in its history: the euro crisis, the refugee crisis and Brexit. A WORLD survey shows that, nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of people see the Union as positive.

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Despite the great crises of the past decade, people in Germany and Europe see the EU as being mostly positive. 70 percent of Germans consider membership in the European Union to be "a good thing", and only eleven percent do not share this view, according to a survey by the YouGov institute on behalf of WELT. The survey in eight countries was commissioned by the eight newspapers of the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA), the largest European media cooperation to which WELT also belongs.

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In all age groups, the approval of the EU is much higher than the rejection. For example, 62 percent of Germans between the ages of 35 and 55 see the EU positively and 70 percent of people over the age of 55. Among the under-35s, the figure is even 77 percent. For the 18- to 25-year-old subgroup, 82 percent say they think the European Union is positive and only three percent disagree. The clear majority of EU advocates also run through all levels of education and income - although the higher the level of education or income, the higher the agreement with the EU.

For the representative survey YouGov interviewed about 1000 people in each of the eight countries at the end of April. In addition to Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Hungary and Belgium. The high level of support for the European Union could even be explained by the crises, explains Peter Mannott, who was responsible for the survey conducted by YouGov. "People in most European countries are seeing significant issues that need to be resolved," says Mannott. "Nonetheless, the majority of people are convinced that the EU is needed as a supranational institution to meet the increasingly global challenges." Some people are more likely than ever to face this crisis.

The majority of the EU is also viewed positively in all eight countries. Here, 61 percent of people think that the EU is positive, only 15 percent believe that it is negative. Apart from Germany, most EU supporters live in Poland. The approval is in the eastern neighboring country at 70 percent - and thus at the same level as in Germany. The number of people who express themselves negatively about the EU is exactly the same with eleven percent in Germany and Poland.

The lowest among the eight countries examined is the approval of the European Union in France. Here, only a slight majority of 51 percent sees the international community as positive, 19 percent see it as negative. Even in Italy, where the Lega is a very EU-critical party in power, the approval is 57 percent, the rejection at 19 percent.

That's how the Germans think about the EU

What the Germans think of the EU depends heavily on their social status: those who expect themselves to be in the lower classes see a disadvantage according to a survey.

Three and a half months before the European elections, just over a third of Germans believe that membership in the European Union (EU) brings more benefits than disadvantages. This opinion is 37 percent, said the pollster Richard Hilmer on Tuesday evening at an event of union-friendly Hans Böckler Foundation in Berlin. For 24 percent outweigh the disadvantages. The largest group of respondents, at 39 percent, was of the opinion that advantages and disadvantages were in balance.

The attitude to the EU depends above all on the social status. Those who count themselves to the lower social classes consider the EU membership rather as disadvantageous. In the upper class, on the other hand, every second judge the advantages higher than the disadvantages.

Nevertheless, Hilmer hopes that a large majority of 83 percent of Germans would like closer cooperation between the EU member states. The concept of a core Europe finds 72 percent approval. The EU institutions enjoy similarly low levels of trust as the Federal Government or the Bundestag: only one third of respondents said they had great or very great trust in the European Commission or the European Parliament.

Respondents want more dedication to security and justice

"European institutions are seamlessly joining in the rampant mistrust of institutions in general," said Hilmer. A much better reputation enjoyed only the European Court, similar to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

Hilmer also examined the extent to which citizens' entitlement to the EU is fulfilled on important topics. The biggest gaps between the importance of the tasks from the point of view of the interviewees and their fulfillment were shown by security and justice. Accordingly, the German people desperately wanted more EU involvement, such as fair taxation of international companies, equal pay for women and men, protection against crime and the joint fight against terrorism.

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