Southern Europeans are growing more supportive of the European Union as the economy improves, a survey has found, but German voters are growing more sceptical.
After polling in the six biggest states, home to 70 percent of the 28-nation bloc’s population, the Washington-based Pew Research Center said 64 percent of Italians and 63 percent of Spaniards held a very or somewhat favourable opinion of the EU, compared to 46 and 50 percent respectively a year ago.
Attitudes in France, Britain and Poland were broadly stable at 55, 51 and 72 percent but in Germany, the biggest economy, favourable opinions dipped to 58 percent from 66 percent.
The results produced a median outcome of 61 percent of people survey holding favourable views of the European Union compared to 53 percent last year and 52 percent in 2013.
The results come despite the rise of political parties critical of the European Union and its policies in some of the biggest member states such as Front National in France, Ukip in the UK, Podemos in Spain and Alternative für Deutschland in Germany.
The governments of Hungary, Greece and the United Kingdom, for very different reasons, are also engaged in acrimonious battles and very public battles against the European Commission.
“In the wake of the euro currency crisis, public support for the EU and the belief that European economic integration was good for one’s country had declined precipitously across Europe, reaching a low point in 2013,” Pew said on Wednesday.
“But in 2015, favourable views of the EU and faith in the efficacy of creating a single market are generally rebounding in major EU member states.”
In the four of the big six using the euro, support for retaining the common currency rose in France, Spain and, especially, Italy, and it was stable in Germany at 72 percent.
Italians last year were divided into equal camps on whether to restore the lira as the country struggled with austerity policies aimed at holding down its debts. They now favour the euro by 56 percent to 37 percent, the survey concluded.
In Britain, which is to hold a referendum by 2017 on whether to stay in the EU, Pew found a five-point swing to the Yes camp from the No [ID:nL5N0YP0PV]; 55 percent said they would now vote for EU membership and 36 percent would vote against it. In 2013, Pew found Britons evenly split, with 46 percent in either camp.