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EU citizens more positive about the EU after Brexit

The percentage of EU citizens who would talk positively about the Union to friends and colleagues has increased by nearly 20 per cent after Brexit, shows a new study from the German think tank Bertelsmann Foundation.
The percentage of EU citizens who would talk positively about the Union to friends and colleagues has increased by nearly 20 per cent after Brexit, shows a new study from the German think tank Bertelsmann Foundation.

Publiceret: 05.04.2017
Af Karen Witt Olsen mail

Would you answer yes or no your country remaining in the EU if the vote was held today?

According to a new study, 70 per cent of EU citizens would today vote yes, which is an increase of 5 per cent compared to March 2016, before the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.

The German think tank Bertelsmann Foundation is behind the study, in which a representative sample of citizens in the EU’s 28 member countries were asked this question in respectively March and August 2016 - that is, before and after Brexit.

“The increase in EU support from 65 per cent to 70 per cent is both significant and pleasing,” says the Confederation of Danish Industry’s director of European Affairs, Anders Ladefoged.

See also: "Supportive but Wary - the study from BertelsmannStiftung

What we risk losing

Anders Ladefoged notes that in connection with the UK referendum, there have been many positive discussions in the individual EU countries about the advantages of EU cooperation.

“Perhaps it has become clearer in the public debate what the EU is capable of - and what would happen if one’s country decided to leave,” says Anders Ladefoged.

Earlier this year, the Danish Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs published an analysis showing that Denmark would be DKK 99 billion poorer without the EU’s single market - equivalent to DKK 65,000 per year for an average blue-collar household.

“We’re becoming more aware of what we risk losing if we leave the EU. I think that after Brexit, many Europeans have become more aware of the EU’s advantages and take into account that a united Europe is positive if international interests are to be safeguarded - regardless of whether it’s about the climate, trade agreements or handling the migration situation,” says DI’s director of European Affairs.

See also: Hard Brexit spells touble for Danish businesses

Positive publicity for the EU

In the new study, “Supportive but wary - How Europeans feel about the EU 60 Years after the Treaty of Rome,” from the Bertelsmann Foundation, it is clear that citizens support the idea of European cooperation.

Meanwhile, the have also become more willing to talk positively about the EU to friends and colleagues.

Whereas less than half (47 per cent) would discuss the EU very or largely positively in March 2016, the number of people prepared to say something nice had increased to two-thirds (66 per cent) in August 2016.

A Brexit effect following the “break-up”, the study, which was published in March 2017, concludes.

Young citizens are most positive

The group that is most supportive of their country’s EU membership are young EU citizens.

Whether it is because they have paid better attention in class, have grown up with a fundamental acceptance of the EU, are happy about the cheap roaming agreements or appreciate something else entirely is unclear.

But in the Bertelsmann Foundation study, the 18-25-year-olds in the EU’s 28 member countries are the most positive by far - both in relation to voting yes to keeping their country in the EU in a theoretical referendum (79 per cent - 9 per cent above the average) and in relation to speaking positively about EU to friends and colleagues (72 per cent - 6 per cent above the average).

See also: Video: Youth volunteer to teach about the EU

We need to see results

The fact that Anders Ladefoged nonetheless remains slightly wary has to do with the danger of taking the current strong support as a given.
He points out that other studies show that EU citizens are focussed on migration, international criminality and terrorism as well as the economy and job creation.

“The legitimacy of the EU rests in the ability to deliver concrete results in the areas that are important for citizens. It is therefore decisive that the EU’s member countries take action in these areas,” he emphasises.

FACTS
Brexit:

On 23 June, 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. 52 % voted for. 48 % voted against.

EU:
- The world’s largest free trade zone with 500+ million consumers
- 21 million companies
- 2/3 of Danish exports go to the EU
- 3/4 of Danish imports come from the EU

We’re becoming more aware of what we risk losing if we leave the EU.
CONFEDERATION OF DANISH INDUSTRY’S DIRECTOR OF EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, ANDERS LADEFOGED
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PUBLISHED: 4/5/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 4/6/2017