What impact has Brexit had on the EU? YouGov asks 10 European nations

Isabelle KirkData Journalist
February 03, 2022, 9:43 AM GMT+0

Most Europeans think that Britain’s exit has made little change to the EU, and few see it as having a positive impact

The refrain of “they need us more than we need them” was common among Brexiteers like Nigel Farage and David Davis both before and after the 2016 referendum. Those campaigning for a hard Brexit claimed that the European Union would be worse off without the UK, and urged the government to take a tougher line in negotiations. A survey of more than 10,000 people by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism project last summer reveals how nine EU countries – and Britain – feel about the impact of Brexit.

What impact has Brexit had on the economy of the EU?

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the long-term economic impact of Brexit on the UK will be more than twice that of the coronavirus pandemic. But the impact of Brexit on the economy of the European Union is less clear-cut.

French and German people are most likely to say Brexit has made no difference to the economy of the EU. Half (51%) of Germans and half (50%) of French people say Brexit has had not made a difference to the EU’s economy, while a quarter (26%) and a fifth (22%) respectively say Brexit has made the EU’s economy worse off.

Hungary’s president Viktor Orban has frequently expressed anti-EU sentiment, although it seems as if there are no current plans for ‘Huxit’. Hungarians were the only nationality polled who were clearly more likely to say the EU is worse off economically as a result of Brexit than ‘no difference’, by 42% to 34%.

British people were split evenly between Brexit having no impact on the EU (34%) and the EU being economically worse off as a result of Brexit (37%). Danish people were similarly split, by 34% to 35%.

However, there was widespread agreement across all 10 countries surveyed that, whatever the impact of Brexit, it has not made the EU any better off. Around one in 12 (8%) Germans and Spaniards say the EU is better off as a result of Brexit, falling to one in 20 (5%) in Greece and Hungary.

What impact has Brexit had on the unity of the EU?

At the time of the referendum, there were concerns that Britain’s exit from the EU would lead to a mass exodus of other member-states and the eventual break-up of the Union.

However, it seems as if most Europeans feel like the unity of the EU countries has not been affected by Brexit – and Britons overestimate the impact that Brexit has had on the unity of the remaining member-states. A third (34%) of Britons think that the EU has become less united as a result of Brexit, compared to between 11% and 25% of the other nine countries polled.

Germans (60%) and Spaniards (61%) were twice as likely as Britons (32%) to say that Brexit has made no difference to the unity of the remaining member-states of the EU, with similarly high numbers in Italy (56%), Greece (56%), France (52%), Poland (50%) and Sweden (50%). One in six (17%) Spaniards think the EU has become more united as a result of Brexit.

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YouGov-Cambridge Centre

The YouGov-Cambridge Centre for Public Opinion Research is a joint research centre run by YouGov and the Cambridge University POLIS Department, which promotes in-depth collaboration between pollsters and academic experts. Alongside research and events, the Centre contributes to teaching at the University and provides several postgraduate scholarships each year.
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