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Survey reveals Europeans can foresee demise of EU

By Julian Shea in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-05-16 23:49

Findings 'should be a wake-up call to pro-European groups'

A new survey published ahead of the European Parliament elections later this month has revealed that more than half of voters think that the disintegration of the European Union within the next 10 to 20 years is a "realistic possibility" – and 92 percent of voters feel they would be left worse off.

In addition, almost seven decades on from the establishment of the first institution that paved the way for the modern EU, the European Coal and Steel Community, set up as a deliberate move to eradicate areas of potential future conflict, three in 10 people said they feared war between EU member states.

The findings of the survey by polling organization YouGov, which was conducted in 14 countries, are in marked contrast to another poll carried out in 10 countries by the United States' Pew Research Center in March. That found 62 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the EU, and 74 percent thought it promoted peace between nations.

In the latest survey, carried out for the European Council on Foreign Relations, or ECFR, the second-highest level of pessimism about the future of the EU was recorded in France, one of the bloc's main driving forces. There, 58 percent of voters thought the organization could collapse, a figure topped only by Slovakia, with 66 percent.

French President Emmanuel Macron's La Republique En Marche party trails Marine Le Pen's anti-EU party Rassemblement National in the run-up to the elections, and the country has been hit by the anti-government'yellow vest'protests.

The ECFR's Director Mark Leonard said the survey results should be a wake-up call to pro-Europeans to promote a positive message about the benefits of EU membership, rather than being complacent and allowing anti-EU groups to profit.

"Support for EU membership is at the highest level since 1983, and yet a majority of voters fear the EU might collapse," he said.

"The challenge for pro-Europeans is to use this fear of loss to mobilize their silent majority and ensure that it is not just the anti-system parties who get their say on May 26."

He added that pro-Europeans need to "offer voters bold ideas for change that emotionally resonate and make the silent majority feel it is worth turning out at the end of May. It is not yet too late."

The 14 countries that took part in the survey account for more than 70 percent of seats in the European Parliament, and it was in just three of them - Sweden (44 percent), Denmark (41 percent) and Spain (40 percent)–that those foreseeing the collapse of the EU were in the minority.

The figure for those who predicted conflict was highest among those who did not plan to vote or who would vote for extremist parties. Among supporters of Germany's Alternative fur Deutschland, the figure was 41 percent, and for Le Pen's supporters, it was 46 percent.

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