Brit and German opinion on the EU

November 08, 2012, 12:56 PM GMT+0

Amid EU budget talks between David Cameron and Angela Merkel, a YouGov poll reveals that Brits and Germans are deeply divided in their views of the European Union.

Asked how they would vote in a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU, a plurality (49%) of the British public say they would vote to leave the Union. Only 28% would vote to stay in the EU, and 17% say they don’t know how they would vote.

Meanwhile, the poll found that a majority (57%) of Germans would vote to stay in the EU, with only 25% saying they would vote to leave the Union, and 9% unsure of how they would vote.

There is also a gulf between Brits and Germans in terms of whether they consider their own country influential in European affairs. Only 23% of Brits consider the UK to be influential in Europe, while 59% of Germans believe their country is influential in the EU.

Where public opinion in both countries converges is when respondents are asked whether they are optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the EU, with a majority of people in Britain and Germany saying they are pessimistic about the future of the Union.

  • 65% of Brits say they are pessimistic about the future of the EU, while only 22% say they are optimistic
  • 54% of Germans are pessimistic about the future of the EU, and 39% are optimistic

Big challenge for Cameron and Merkel

Commenting on the findings, YouGov Director of Political and Social Research Joe Twyman said:

“The noticeable distance between how people in Britain and Germany feel about their country’s membership of the European Union underlines the scale of the challenge facing both David Cameron and Angela Merkel in trying to come to an agreement over the EU’s budget. On one hand, Merkel must try and bring member nations onside with her pro-European, inclusive agenda – which includes an increase in the budget. In contrast, Cameron must attempt to be perceived as a constructive member of the Union, while at the same time trying to satisfy public opinion in his own country, where a significant proportion are opposed to Britain’s membership in the EU. The fact that pessimism about the future of the EU is the one issue on which both Brits and Germans agree offers some insight into how people in both countries rate the chances of Ms Merkel and Mr Cameron arriving at such an agreement.”

The findings are the latest results of YouGov’s EuroTrack survey, a multi-country study tracking public opinion in the UK, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

For more information contact YouGov PR Executive Harris MacLeod

See the full original press release here

And click here for the full results of the poll