Thursday 19 October 2017

Brexit: One year on just one-third of the public feels the EU has benefited them

Just one-third of the public feels they have benefited from the EU. Stock Image: PA
Just one-third of the public feels they have benefited from the EU. Stock Image: PA
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Just one-third of the public feels they have benefited from the EU, a major study assessing attitudes across Europe has found.

That compares with 71pc of the so-called elites - politicians, the media, business representatives and influential people in civil society.

The report also concludes that the Germans, Italians and French are the least likely to think the EU should compromise on its core principles in order to maintain a good relationship with the UK post-Brexit.

The study by London's Chatham House is based on a survey of 10,000 people across the bloc, and 1,800 so-called influencers from media, business and politics.

The 'Future of Europe: Comparing Public and Elite Attitudes' report reveals both significant divisions and threads of commonality across the continent.

The think tank said its research shows a lack of consensus among elites over future EU integration - and a pronounced divide within the public on issues of identity.

"Our data reveals a broad diversity of perspectives among Europeans, across the continent as a whole and between states, that goes beyond a binary split," said Thomas Raines, co-author and research fellow with the Europe Programme at Chatham House.

"The debate over Europe's future should be reframed to reflect the breadth of views across the continent and give space to critics - delegitimising opposing voices and values may only serve to bolster anti-EU sentiment."

The survey was conducted in between December and February across 10 countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Findings include:

Only 34pc of the European public feel they have benefited from the EU, compared with 71pc of the elites;

Almost twice as many Britons think their country was better 20 years ago (48pc) than think it is better today (23pc);

About 41pc of the British public believe nationalism is a danger to peace and stability in Europe. But this was the lowest of any country surveyed;

European elites are most likely to identify peace as the EU's greatest achievement, while for the public it is freedom of movement. Britons view free movement and peace as the EU's greatest achievement, while seeing mass immigration and bureaucracy as its greatest failings;

The British public is among the most likely to think another EU member state will leave in the next 10 years, with 72pc agreeing with this;

Germans (14pc), Italians (15pc) and French (17pc) are the least likely to think the EU should compromise on its core principles in order to maintain a good relationship with the UK.

Irish Independent

Also in Business