By Valentina Magri
European elections are coming and fear is growing. The terror is called UKIP (UK Independence Party). The party who wants Britain exit from the EU and tougher immigration laws may gain 25-35 per cent of votes, according to the latest polls, pushing PM Cameron’s Conservatives in third place. But the situation is not as tough as it seems for the EU. This is the conclusion of a recent survey by the PewResearchCenter, conducted from March 17 to April 9, 2014 over 7,022 people in seven EU member countries, included Britain.
What do Brits think about the EU?
Despite the referendum over the EU promised by Mr Cameron by the end of 2017 and the rise of UKIP, sentiment towards European project is improving. Between 2013 and 2014, English people in favour of EU have increased from 43 to 52 per cent and those convinced that economic integration has strengthened the economy have jumped from 26 to 41 per cent. But this appreciation does not cover also EU institutions: ECB is supported by 30 per cent of Brits; only 34 and 36 per cent of English are in favour respectively of European Commission and Parliament. The most supported EU institution is the EU as a whole: 52 per cent of British is in favour of it.
Ideal and reality
The problem of EU exit supporters does not deal with their idea of the EU itself. Indeed, on the one hand Brits believe that the EU promotes peace (67 per cent) and prosperity (53 per cent). Just 43 per cent of British people consider the EU also a world power. On the other hand, English citizens consider the EU:
- unable to listen to their voice (71 per cent);
- powerless in understanding their needs (64 per cent);
- intrusive (60 per cent);
- inefficient (64 per cent).
Thus, statisticsly speaking, British people does not support the idea of giving more decision-making power to the EU in order to tackle Europe’s economic problems. Despite this fact, more Brits support the EU.
Who will support the EU membership at the referendum?
If it took place an EU membership referendum, 50 per cent of Brits would vote to remain in EU. They were just the 41 per cent last year. Who are they?
The PewResearchCenter survey have carried out an identikit of EU-lovers. They are:
- young: 74 per cent of people aged 18-29 is in favour of EU;
- women: 55 per cent of them is in favour of stay, while men are equally divided /46 per cent remain and 47 per cent leave);
- on the left: 62 per cent in favour of the EU vs. 46 per cent of the right wing;
- well-educated: 66 per cent of college-educated Brits support the EU.
According to the research, despite frustrations, the British sentiment towards the EU has improved in the last two years, together with the economy. Indeed, people convinced that the current economic situation is good increased (from 15 to 43 per cent) and so do those who foresee an economic improvement in next 12 month (from 22 to 45 per cent).
Eventually, the economic recovery may make Brits recover from the Eurexit fever.