The spring 2019 edition of the quarterly Eurobarometer survey of citizens’ attitudes to the EU has found consistently high levels of support for the bloc.
The Eurobarometer spring 2019 report, subtitled “Closer to the Citizens, Closer to the Ballot”, found that of the 27,973 Europeans surveyed across all EU Member States – including the UK – 68 per cent said they believed Member States benefited from being part of the EU, representing the highest result for this question since 1983. 61 per cent of respondents said their home country’s membership of the EU was overall “a good thing”; matching the result of the last Eurobarometer, which showed the highest level of EU approval since the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
The ongoing UK crisis over Brexit appeared to have cemented positive sentiments among residents of other Member States towards EU membership. The report states: “One month ahead of the date originally scheduled for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU as laid down in Article 50, close to seven Europeans in ten said they would vote to remain in the EU if a referendum was held in their country. An absolute majority of respondents in 25 Member States hold this view, a relative majority shares this view in Italy, Czechia and the UK…[i]n 13 EU countries overall, including also the UK, the number of respondents who are undecided has increased. This rise of uncertainty can be seen as a sign of the politically challenging times for the European Union in the run-up to the European elections in May 2019 – and as a confirmation of the challenge of these elections being indeed crucial for the future of the European Union.”
While approval for the EU as a whole was high, the Eurobarometer spring 2019 report noted that a minority of citizens were adequately informed on the forthcoming EU elections. Around a third of respondents knew the elections were to be held this May; and only five per cent knew the exact dates. However, 35 per cent of Europeans surveyed said they would “almost definitely” vote in the elections; with another 32 per cent remained undecided.
An expert insight report prepared by applied social research firm Kantar Public said: “There is a discrepancy between the way the European Union and the coming European Parliament elections are often discussed in the media, and the most recent polling evidence regarding the way the EU is perceived by the Europeans. This is largely due to the never-ending story of the Brexit, which continues to dominate the media, but also because of the electoral success of parties that express critical views on Europe that have made the highlights in national media. Is this because there is always more to say about trains that are not on time (and the Brexit psychodrama is clearly a train not on time)?”