The Economics of European Integration

WASHINGTON, DC/BRUSSELS (May 29, 2012) - The Bertelsmann Foundation and the Bertelsmann Stiftung Brussels office hosted in the Belgian capital today the launch of the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Survey on Europe. The report, entitled “European Unity on the Rocks”, addressed Europeans’ growing weariness towards greater European integration. The polling data drew on more than 8,000 respondents in eight European countries – the UK, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Poland and Greece – and the United States in April and May.

Bruce Stokes, director of the Pew Global Economic Attitudes program, unveiled the study’s findings. His presentation was followed by commentary from three prominent members of the European Parliament: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Elmar Brok (EPP), German Greens leader Reinhard Bütikofer and Poland’s Rafal Trzaskowski (EPP). Bertelsmann Stiftung Brussels Office Executive Director Thomas Fischer moderated the discussion.

“The biggest take-away is that Europeans don’t buy the ’57 consensus that European integration is good for their countries’ economies,” said Stokes. The discussion highlighted that European attitudes often reflect a reality that is inconsistent with often-cited political inclinations. Germans, for example, are the least likely to be concerned with inflation and are the only people surveyed of whom a majority believes European integration is good for their national economy.

The session ended on a sobering note about US public awareness of the eurozone crisis. Stokes cited a Pew’s monthly survey of American press coverage to note that only 4.5 percent of US media reporting was devoted to the crisis. He questioned whether enough was being done to prepare Congress and the wider public should more drastic action by the US Treasury be necessary.

About 90 representatives of the Brussels think tank and media communities attended. The report’s results received widespread and prominent attention in many of Europe’s and the US’s largest newspapers.

The full Pew report can be found at: http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/05/29/european-unity-on-the-rocks/.