Europeans see the EU as a protective umbrella in the era of globalization

(lifePR) ( Gütersloh, )
Right-wing conservative parties are mobilizing votes throughout Europe with their criticism of globalization and the EU. By contrast, centrist parties cannot agree about how best to respond to this policy of rejection. The current edition of eupinions shows what Europeans think about globalization and the role the EU should play.

For many Europeans a policy of isolation and nationalism is not an appropriate response to the challenges of globalization. This is because, although almost half of all Europeans see globalization as a threat, the majority of them consider the EU to be part of the solution and not the problem. They expect European policy to concern itself above all with questions of security and migration. Economic questions and questions of social jus-tice are considered to play a far less important role, irrespective of country of origin and party affinity. It is striking that whereas enthusiasm for the EU is crumbling in some right-of-center parties (FDP, Les Republicains), a broad majority of supporters of center-right to left parties support greater European co-operation.

“In 2017 there is cross-party acceptance of Europe as a source of stability, prosperity and peace. That is one of Europe’s successes. However, those voices that promise a future con-frontation between nations instead of international togetherness have to be countered with persuasion, facts and open discussions. To do that, strong political leadership is also required”, says Aart DeGeus, commenting on the findings.

“eupinions” is used regularly by the Bertelsmann Stiftung to survey citizens of all EU member countries about political and social issues. For the current survey, over 10,000 Europeans were interviewed about globalization and the role of the EU. The results are representative for the EU as a whole as well as for the five largest member states: Germany, France, Italy, Poland and Spain.

Whether for or against globalization: a majority sees Europe as part of the solution

There is a considerable gap between the general and personal perceptions of Europeans with regard to attitudes towards globalization. Whereas almost half (44 percent) of EU citizens consider globalization to be a threat, at the same time the majority (66 percent) state that with regard to the accessibility of affordable goods and services their experiences of globali-zation have, at the very least, been “quite good”. Attitudes towards international interde-pendence also have an effect on perceptions of the EU; while an overall majority of support-ers of globalization are in favor of more EU integration (64 percent), this group of EU sup-porters is clearly smaller among sceptics of globalization (45 to 41 percent).

There is a clear trend to be seen across Europe with regard to the role of the European Union. When it comes to the structuring of global political challenges and the management of inter-national processes like globalization, a clear majority of citizens see European integration as part of the solution. Even when people have diverse party preferences and attitudes towards globalization, they are open-minded about the further development of the EU. Only voters from right-wing and right-wing populist parties deviate from this view. They reject any type of political and economic opening up towards both globalization and the EU.

A European-wide split between the extreme right and all other parties

In Germany supporters of the EU are in a clear majority across nearly all the political divides. However it is noticeable that the supporters of the FDP have shifted to the right in terms of European policy. The greatest proportion of advocates of stronger EU integration can be found in the SPD (66 percent), followed by the Greens (65 percent), the CDU/CSU (63 per-cent) and the Left Party (62 percent). In contrast, commitment to Europe among the FDP seems to be shaky; only 49 percent of their supporters are in favor of more European integra-tion. This is the worst score after the AfD, the majority of whose supporters are against more integration (59 percent).

In the other EU states we find a similar picture. In France only the supporters of the right-wing conservative Front National (64 percent) are against more EU integration. In Poland there is a majority for a clear anti-EU perspective only among supporters of the right-wing nationalist party Kukiz’15 (54 percent). In Spain, by contrast, the EU has an excellent reputa-tion whatever the party position. The Spanish socialists register the lowest approval rating; but even so, 71 percent of supporters still want more EU-integration. “Many supporters of left-wing parties see globalization as a threat but still support the further development of the EU. In contrast the right see Europe as the problem rather than part of the solution. For this reason throughout Europe they consistently reject stronger integration”, says Isabel Hoff-mann.

Terrorism and migration are the most urgent problems for Europeans

Asked what the greatest challenges are for Europe’s future a clear picture emerges among Europeans; those surveyed identified terrorism and international migration as the most press-ing areas. A quarter of all Europeans (25 percent) state that the fight against terrorism should be Europe’s top priority. Another fifth of all Europeans (20 percent) consider Europe’s main task to be better management of migration. By contrast, growth (6 percent) and inequality (6 percent) are not anywhere near the top of the Europeans’ to-do list.

Additional information

“eupinions” is the European opinion research instrument of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, that was developed jointly with Dalia Research. We regularly seek the views of the citizens of all 28 EU member states on European matters. The last survey took place in July 2017 and with a sample of 10,755 respondents, is representative for the European Union overall and the 6 largest member states – Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Poland. Because this study focuses on relevant questions for the post-Brexit EU, for reasons of methodological robustness we have not taken into account the British sample. The present study contains representative data for the EU as a whole as well as for Germany, France, Italy, Poland and Spain.
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