Brexit Boosts EU Survey Results
GUETERSLOH, GERMANY (November 21, 2016) – Brexit has boosted the European Union’s standing with the public. Since the June referendum in which Britons voted against remaining in the EU, the union’s approval ratings have risen across much of Europe – including in Britain. These are the preliminary findings of eupinions, a survey that is representative of the EU and its six largest member states, presenting a snapshot of public sentiment about the EU.
Overall, approval of EU membership in Europe climbed to 62 percent in August 2016. In the previous eupinions survey in March 2016, before Brexit, the figure was just 57 percent. The United Kingdom offered a similar picture – whereas not even half of the population were in favor of the EU before the referendum (49 percent), approval ratings climbed to 56 percent after Brexit. This means, according to eupinions, that for the first time since 2015, Britons are more pro-Europe than the French or the Italians (53 and 51 percent, respectively) when asked about their countries’ continued membership in the EU.
The looming Brexit seems to have been the best advertisement for the EU. Unfortunately many Britons are only now coming to recognize the advantages of a united Europe. Now both sides must agree on clear rules for the future, because there won’t be an ‘a la carte’ Europe.
This trend is also evident in other countries. In Germany, EU approval ratings increased by 8 percentage points to 69 percent. In Poland, where the EU enjoys the highest overall positive response, ratings increased by 9 percentage points to reach 77 percent. Only Spain bucked the trend: Approval ratings there fell from 71 to 69 percent, although that still represents the third highest approval rating among the countries surveyed.
“The looming Brexit seems to have been the best advertisement for the EU. Unfortunately many Britons are only now coming to recognize the advantages of a united Europe. Now both sides must agree on clear rules for the future, because there won’t be an ‘a la carte’ Europe,” says Aart De Geus, chairman of the board of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
Across the Union, only a quarter of Europeans feel that their respective countries should leave the EU (26 percent). This represents a decline of 4 percent. Those most in favor of an exit are the Italians (41 percent), least disposed are the Poles (17 percent) and Spaniards (18 percent). According to the survey, roughly one fifth of Germans (21 percent) and nearly a third of the French (31 percent) favor leaving the EU.
eupinions is the European opinion research instrument of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, which was developed in collaboration with Dalia Research and regularly canvasses citizens’ opinions on European issues across all 28 EU member states. The most recent survey took place in August 2016 with a sample of 14,936 respondents representative of the EU and the six largest member states – France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Samia Yakub is the Communications Director at the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington, DC