Sunday, December 01, 2013

Fog in Channel, Continent cut off

There are some interesting figures from a new poll on attitudes to the European Union in four different countries (Germany, France, Poland and UK).

The survey of more than 2,000 people in the UK and over 1,000 in each of Germany, France and Poland, shows a clear parting of the ways. Just 26% of Britons think the EU is, overall, a "good thing" compared with 62% of Poles, 55% of Germans and 36% of French.

Accompanying this anti-EU feeling is an ingrained cultural resistance to the European ideal and the very idea of being European. Just 14% of UK people polled say they regard themselves as European, compared with 48% of Poles, 39% of Germans and 34% of French. Whereas most people in Germany, France and Poland name a fellow European country as their closest ally, the British name fellow English-speaking nations: 33% named the US, 31% Australia and 23% Canada.

Equally striking, in the context of Cameron's attempts to negotiate a new deal for the UK, attitudes to British membership are pretty negative among our partners, who will have to sign off on any future special terms of membership we may want to agree. When asked whether the UK is a positive force in the EU, just 9% of Germans, 15% of French and 33% of Poles say it is. Opposition to giving the UK special membership terms is strongest in Germany, where 44% are against and 16% in favour, with 26% of the French in favour and 36% against. In Poland there is more support, with 38% in favour and 23% against.

While the article in which these number are offered emphasises the apparently growing 'gulf' between the attitudes of Britons and those of their continental neighbours, arguably the most surprising result is the low level of French support for the EU and self-identification as 'European'.

The French also seem more positively disposed toward the British (at least with regard to questions related to the EU) than the Germans are. 

I wouldn't have expected that.

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