Tuesday, June 7, 2016
LONDON — As Britain prepares to vote on June 23 on whether to remain in the European Union, skepticism about the bloc is on the rise across Europe, with about two-thirds of Britons wanting some powers returned to their national government, according to an opinion poll released on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan institution based in Washington.
The survey of respondents in 10 European countries showed increasing dissatisfaction with the European Union since last year, a period of low growth and during a migrant crisis, particularly in France and Spain.
In France, 38 percent of respondents viewed the European Union favorably and 61 percent viewed it unfavorably. In Greece, 27 percent viewed it favorably and 71 percent unfavorably.
In Britain, by contrast, 44 percent of respondents viewed the bloc favorably while 48 percent viewed it unfavorably.
The division is particularly pronounced across age groups, with people ages 18 to 34 expressing significantly more favorable views toward the European Union than those 50 and over. In France, the gap between the two age groups was 25 percentage points, while in Britain it was 19 percentage points, underscoring the importance of turnout among both young and old in the referendum.
The poll also found a large split along ideological lines, with those on the left in Britain 31 percentage points more likely than those on the right to view the European Union favorably: 69 percent to 38 percent.
There was an even larger ideological split in Britain on whether some powers should be returned to national governments: 77 percent of those on the right said they favored returning some powers to London, compared with 40 percent on the left. The 37 percentage point gap on the issue was much larger in Britain than in most other countries, with the right in much of the rest of Europe less intent on recovering powers from Brussels.
The numbers also underscored the importance of the Labour Party vote in Britain’s referendum. Some have accused the hard-left leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn, of being halfhearted in his support for the campaign to remain in the bloc.
Over all, 65 percent of Britons said they wanted some powers returned from Brussels, compared with 43 percent in Germany and 39 percent in France and Italy.
The poll did not measure voting intentions for the referendum. But it did show wide support across the European Union for Britain to remain, with large majorities in all countries seeing a British exit, known as Brexit, as bad for the bloc.
The Pew Research Center conducted the poll in April and May, by telephone and in face-to-face interviews. The margin of sampling errorwas plus or minus three percentage points in Britain; four in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden; and five in Hungary, Italy, Greece and Poland.
The poll also found general disapproval with the way the European Union has handled two major concerns across the bloc: migration and the economy.
Overwhelming majorities across Europe said they disapproved of the bloc’s handling of the migrant crisis, ranging from 94 percent of respondents in Greece and 88 percent in Sweden to 70 percent in Britain and France.
In Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has been widely criticized for having welcomed refugees last summer, 67 percent disapproved of how the bloc handled migration, but 26 percent approved, one of the highest figures in Europe.
On the economy, 92 percent of Greeks disapproved of the bloc’s economic management. Sixty-eight percent disapproved in Italy, 66 percent in France, 65 percent in Spain, and 55 percent in Britain, which does not use the euro currency. Poland and Germany had the most favorable view of the handling of the economy, with 47 percent of respondents expressing approval.