There is support for allowing some of David Cameron’s desired EU reforms – just don't call them 'concessions'
European voters would like Britain to stay in the European Union, according to the latest YouGov EuroTrack survey. The majority of the public oppose a so-called Brexit, or a British exit from the EU, in four of six countries surveyed.
David Cameron will lay out his demands for EU renegotiation at a summit in Brussels on Thursday evening. A referendum on British membership to the 28-member union is scheduled for 2017.
Some of Britain’s biggest proponents in the poll come from the Nordic states – around six in ten Danes, Swedes and Finns want the United Kingdom to stay ‘in’. 59% of Germans also want the UK to remain an EU member. In all four of these countries the number who want the UK to leave the EU is under a quarter of the population.
The French public is especially favourable to Brexit, with a third saying they would prefer if the UK left the union. However, 43% take the opposite view. In Norway, the only non-EU member surveyed, the public is even more divided and only narrowly against Brexit.
Confusion over concessions
Of course, it won’t be up to them. What is up to leaders of EU countries is whether the UK should be allowed to renegotiate its relationship with the union ahead of the referendum. The poll finds that in the EU member states surveyed there is little support for making “significant concessions” to the UK, and in fact, in France and Germany many more would advise to make no concessions at all.
This may not be the whole story. When asked about some specific proposals rumoured to be on Cameron’s wish list, there is considerable support for granting some of them. One explanation might be that the changes are popular in their own right – when the same respondents are asked whether they would like the reforms to apply in their own country, there is even greater support.
In France, for example, 53% would support giving the UK the power to remove any migrant who has not found work within six months – while 58% want France to have the same power. Only 41% of Finns want to allow the UK to institute a four-year waiting period before EU migrants can claim in-work benefits, but 56% would support giving Finland the ability to do this. When it comes to the most popular of the three proposals outlined in the survey, stopping the payment of child benefits for children living outside of the country providing them, 55% of Germans back allowing the change for the UK and 63% back the change for their own country.
All three proposals are also overwhelmingly popular in Britain itself, each gaining the backing of more than four in five voters.
The survey also includes a version of the referendum question, and finds 44% of the British public in favour of Britain staying in the EU. 38% would vote to leave the EU. 18% either don't know or wouldn't vote. The 6-point lead for "in" is similar to the lead reflected in YouGov's other referendum polls, which use an updated question.