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Democrat January-February 2014 (Number 139)

EU support
plummets across Europe

Report by Brian Denny

Popular support for the EU is in free fall across Europe particularly in Greece and Spain which registered the sharpest drop in support between 2008 and last year.

A Gallup survey showed that just 19 per cent of Greeks approved of the EU's in 2013. The same was true of 21 per cent of Cypriots.

Both countries had EU bailouts imposed on them by the EU and the IMF accompanied by vicious structural adjustment programmes that have slashed public spending and growth and sparked mass unemployment.

The EU remained scarcely more appreciated in several other countries with less than a third approving of the EU in the UK, the Czech Republic, and Sweden.

Spain registered the largest decrease in support between 2008 and 2013, dropping from 59 per cent to 27 per cent last year.

Support for the EU also slumped in Ireland, a country that has just exited its bailout following years of EU austerity. While 70 per cent approved of the EU in 2008, 47 per cent did so in 2013 - a drop of 23 per cent.

But it was not only bailout countries or countries particularly affected by the economic crisis where affection for the EU waned strongly.

Sweden saw a 17 point drop over the six-year period; Finland a 14 point drop and Denmark a 10 point drop.

Meanwhile the Netherlands - which has increasing debated the merits of the EU amid rising euro realism - went from 59 per cent support in 2008 to 48 per cent last year.

Support for the EU saw the highest approval in 2013 in Luxembourg and Germany which has been using the economic crisis and its privileged position in the Eurozone to increase exports.

The Gallup survey indicates that the record unemployment rates among young people in euro 'periphery' countries is taking a toll on the EU's popularity among 15-30 year olds.

EU leadership approval among young Greeks dropped from 61 per cent in 2009 to 19 per cent, while young Italians went from 48 per cent approval in 2008 to 34 per cent last year. Spain showed a 34 point plummet over the same period, and Ireland an 18 point drop.