Eurobarometer: 85% support for EU in Ireland - Public opinion survey shows that EU is more appreciated than ever
85% of the Irish public support the EU, however, the appreciation is in stark contrast to an underlying ambivalence towards voting in EU elections
The latest Eurobarometer survey, measuring public attitudes to the EU across the bloc, highlights that more people than ever consider their country’s membership of the European Union to be a good thing (62%). This is the highest figure recorded in the last 25 years. 68% are also of the view that their country has benefitted from EU membership - the highest figure since 1983.
In Ireland, total satisfaction for the European Union is among the highest, in the 28 member states, with 85% of respondents saying that membership is a ‘good thing’. An even larger percentage of respondents felt that Ireland had benefitted from EU membership (92%) this compares to an EU average of 68% of people who feel their country has benefitted since joining the Union. Despite huge support for the project, however, 40% of Irish respondents were ‘not interested’ in the upcoming European elections due to be held in May 2019. This represented a 4% decrease in interest for the EU Elections in Ireland since April 2018.
Europe wide, there is growing awareness of next year’s European elections, with 41% correctly identifying the date in May 2019 - a nine point increase over a similar survey six months ago and seven points more than in June 2013. However 44% still could not say today when the elections will be taking place, compared to 46% in June 2013.
Nearly all results measuring support for the EU across all member states showed a significant upturn following the UK referendum in 2016 suggesting growing concern across the continent at the impact that Brexit will have and a growing awareness, due to the difficult negotiations, of the benefits of being a Member of the EU.
If there was a referendum on EU membership today only the Czech Republic and Italy would vote to leave with 83% of the Irish public voting to remain comparing to an EU average of 66% remain and only 17% would contemplate leaving, with 17% undecided. Interestingly if there was a vote today 51% of Britons surveyed would choose to remain.
Overall, the Parlemeter 2018 survey though is not all good news. Despite significant and growing support for the EU in general, half of respondents are not happy with the direction the EU is heading in, with a similar result regarding their own country.
Commenting on the results of the survey, President of the European parliament, Antonio Tajani said: “As details of the UK’s withdrawal agreement are being finalised, these figures highlight growing appreciation of the benefits of EU membership across the continent. Nevertheless, there is much work to be done. Continued cooperation and solidarity at the EU level is essential in delivering answers to the concerns of ordinary European citizens.”
Guy Verhofstadt, Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, added: "The fact that 51% of UK citizens’ surveyed want to stay in the EU is a stark reminder of the deep divisions wrought by the Brexit decision and the need for us to find a sustainable and close long term future relationship in the form of a broad and deep association agreement. While we must prepare for all eventualities, it appears there is little appetite in the UK or elsewhere in the EU for a so-called hard Brexit or a costly no deal scenario and I hope that the outcome of the negotiations will ultimately reflect this."
As regards the image of Parliament across the EU, one third (32%) hold a positive view, one fifth (21%) a negative view and a relative majority (43%) remain neutral.
Background to the survey:
The fieldwork of this survey was carried out between 8 and 26 September 2018 among 27 601 Europeans aged 16 or more, interviewed face-to-face by Kantar Public in all 28 Member States.