The European Union: cross country poll

March 02, 2012, 5:45 PM GMT+0

A Poll of Britain, Germany, Denmark and Sweden finds Germany to be most likely to support continual membership of the European Union.

A cross-country study has found that should there be a referendum for the European Union; Germans are more likely than a number of their European counterparts to vote to remain as members of the European Union, expressing the most optimism about the future of the organisation and preferring EU involvement in their national affairs.

In contrast, Britain appears to have very low levels of support for the European Union and its continuation compared to its European neighbours.

Summary of main points

  • A significant percentage of Germans (50%) and Danes (49%) feel their country's membership of the European Union is a good thing
  • Meanwhile, 2 in 5 respondents from Britain (41%) say EU membership is a bad thing
  • 60% of Germans would vote to remain a member of the EU, 26% would vote to leave EU
  • Despite this, 53% of Germans are pessimistic about the future of the EU
  • The country that is most pessimistic is Britain with 65%, followed by Sweden with 56%
  • Taking everything into account, 57%of Britons think their country does not profit financially from membership of the European Union

These results come in response to the recent EU fiscal treaty which has been drawn up as a means to prevent huge debts, like those which sparked the recent Greek, Irish and Portuguese bailouts, which would affect the entire Eurozone collective.

Some critics have argued that the new pact is merely a political gesture to placate taxpayers in Germany, where there is reluctance to pay for further Eurozone bailouts.

The future of the EU

Germany is currently the Eurozone’s most dominant economy while also being the most optimistic about the continuation of the European Union as a Eurozone authority.

  • Of Great Britain, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, the country that's most optimistic about the future of the EU is Germany with 41%, followed closely by Denmark with 40%
  • 34% of panellists from Sweden are optimistic about the future of the EU (32% fairly optimistic, 2% very optimistic), while 56% are pessimistic about it (38% fairly pessimistic, 18% very pessimistic)
  • 22% of panellists from Britain are optimistic about the future of the EU (20% fairly optimistic, 2% very optimistic), while 65% are pessimistic about it (42% fairly pessimistic, 23% very pessimistic

    If there was a referendum on membership of the European Union, of those who would vote:

  • The majority (60%) of Germans would vote for Germany to remain in the EU, as well as more than half (54%) of Danes
  • Of the Britons who would vote, 48% would vote to leave the EU while 30% of Britons would vote to remain a member
  • 39% of Swedes would vote to leave the EU, 39% would vote to stay

These results would suggest that Germany is most likely to see benefits from the EU's involvement in their national affairs, though our polls show that most don't believe these benefits extend to financial profit.

There is a correlation between the number of Britons, Swedes and Germans that say their country does not profit financially from their membership of the EU.

  • Taking everything into account, 57% of Britons think their country does not profit financially from membership of the European Union
  • More than half of Swedish panellists (53%) say Sweden doesn’t profit financially from their EU membership, while only one in five (20%) of Swedes think there is profit involved
  • More than half (52%) of Germans say Germany doesn’t profit financially from the EU, while just over a third (34%) think Germany does profit
  • 48% of Danes say Denmark does not profit financially, while 31% of Danes think it does

When should the EU be involved?

The majority of panellists from all four countries say that issues such as 'welfare and benefits,' 'policing and justice', 'employment rights' and 'taxation' should be run purely by the government without EU involvement.

The four countries all feel similarly that the EU should still have some involvement in issues such as 'environment and climate change,' 'trade rules' and 'foreign policy' towards countries outside of Europe. Britain seems to want the least involvement from the EU however, with a higher majority assuming responsibility for these issues to fall to their government alone.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Czech leader Václav Klaus were the only two EU members not to endorse the new fiscal treaty designed to impose tough new financial rules. David Cameron has said in the past that he would not sign any reworked EU treaty designed to solve the Eurozone crisis if it does not contain safeguards to protect British interests.

The German government has expressed praise for the fiscal treaty, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel describing it as a "great leap", a first step towards stability and political union.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said after the signing: “Contrary to all of the negative prophecies about the future of the euro, and even of the EU, this agreement…signals the irreversibility of the euro and a very important step forward in European integration.”

Conducted earlier this week, the European Union poll asked a nationally representative sample of British, German, Danish and Swedish adults.

See the full results of the cross country poll here