What is the mood of European citizens towards the European Union (EU) after the recent turbulent years marked by economic recession, increasing migration flows and Brexit?
The Pew Research Center, with its Global Attitudes Survey, allows us to analyse the longitudinal trend of European citizens’ support for the EU. In several waves, this survey asked respondents in ten European countries to express their view of the EU. Not surprisingly, all countries experienced a sharp decrease in public support for the EU with the outbreak of the economic crisis (2010-2013). In fact, the average share of people expressing a favourable view of the EU in 2012 (56.8%) was 12 percentage points lower than the value in 2007 (68.8%). Moreover, most of the countries showed a further decrease in public support for the EU in 2016, in correspondence of Brexit. However, nine of the ten countries, including the United Kingdom (UK), showed a rising confidence in the EU in 2017. The average share of people expressing a favourable view of the EU in 2017 (60%) was ten percentage points higher than in 2016 (50%). Italy was the only country that deviated from this trend.
In line with a common theoretical argument explaining European support, a rising and favourable view of the EU is associated with an increasing confidence in the economic rebound in countries surveyed. While in 2012—the peak of the sovereign debt crisis—the average share of respondents expressing a positive view of the economic situation in their country (21%) was more than 30 percentage points lower than in 2007 (53%). In 2017, that proportion increased in eight of the ten countries, reaching a value of 40.5% of respondents. Only in Greece and Italy, the public confidence for the current economic situation did not increase. In Greece, the share of respondents expressing a positive view of the economy remained the same in 2016, whereas it sharply decreased in Italy.
Photo Credits CC: European Parliament feat. Alexander Damiano Ricci