Saturday, 27 April 2013

Latest EU poll: "Euroscepticism is soaring amid bailouts and spending cuts"

The latest European poll should make the pygmy politicians and Brussels eurocrats in charge of the slow motion train wreck known as the European Union scared to death: 

Public confidence in the European Union has fallen to historically low levels in the six biggest EU countries, raising fundamental questions about its democratic legitimacy more than three years into the union's worst ever crisis, new data shows.
After financial, currency and debt crises, wrenching budget and spending cuts, rich nations' bailouts of the poor, and surrenders of sovereign powers over policymaking to international technocrats, Euroscepticism is soaring to a degree that is likely to feed populist anti-EU politics and frustrate European leaders' efforts to arrest the collapse in support for their project.
Figures from Eurobarometer, the EU's polling organisation, analysed by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a thinktank, show a vertiginous decline in trust in the EU in countries such as Spain,Germany and Italy that are historically very pro-European.
The six countries surveyed – Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Spain, and Poland – are the EU's biggest, jointly making up more than two out of three EU citizens or around 350 million of the EU's 500 million population.
The findings, published exclusively in the Guardian in Britain and in collaboration with other leading newspapers in the other five countries, represent a nightmare for Europe's leaders, whether in the wealthy north or in the bailout-battered south, suggesting a much bigger crisis of political and democratic legitimacy. 

"The damage is so deep that it does not matter whether you come from a creditor, debtor country, euro would-be member or the UK: everybody is worse off," said José Ignacio Torreblanca, head of the ECFR's Madrid office. "Citizens now think that their national democracy is being subverted by the way the euro crisis is conducted." --

The most dramatic fall in faith in the EU has occurred in Spain, where the banking and housing market collapse, eurozone bailout and runaway unemployment have combined to produce 72% "tending not to trust" the EU, with only 20% "tending to trust".
The data compares trust and mistrust in the EU at the end of last year with levels in 2007, before the financial crisis, to reveal a precipitate fall in support for the EU of the kind that is common in Britain but is much more rarely seen on the continent.
In Spain, trust in the EU fell from 65% to 20% over the five-year period while mistrust soared to 72% from 23%.
In five of the six countries, including Britain, mistrust prevailed over trust by sizeable margins, whereas in 2007 – with the exception of the UK – the opposite was the case.
Five years ago, 56% of Germans "tended to trust" the EU, whereas 59% now "tend to mistrust". In France, mistrust has risen from 41% to 56%. In Italy, where public confidence in Europe has traditionally been higher than in the national political class, mistrust of the EU has almost doubled from 28% to 53%.
The failure of the present European Union is becoming more apparent day by day. The co-founder of the Danish Saxo BankLars Seier Christensen, has some interesting ideas about what could be done to stop the madness:
The big question raised in the book (by Vaclav Klaus) is really whether the EU is more the problem than the solution in the current crisis.
Both the EU and Denmark are in a difficult situation. The euro has shown its true colours and anyone with a rational view of the world sees the currency collaboration as a historic failure that can lead to even further fatal consequences for Europe and the continent’s competitiveness vis-à-vis the rest of the world. There is one thing, and only one thing, that can rescue the euro. That is a much more far-reaching integration between the euro countries; a common financial policy, joint debt issuing, a willingness to pay enormous transfers from the rich to the poor countries or, more specifically, from Germany to all the other member states.
That is a possible route, but not a desirable one. At least not for the citizens who in this case - like in too many other cases - seem to have fundamentally different interests than politicians. It requires a will to give up national independence to an extent that is not acceptable to the voters and, precisely because of this, can only be accomplished in an undemocratic manner.
A speech by British Prime Minister David Cameron on January 23 was extraordinarily important. It represented a strengthening of the critical debate that many Europeans are striving for. Until this moment, Václav Klaus was the only head of state who contributed to that debate. The fact that the prime minister of one of the EU’s most important countries is stepping forward as the focal point for citizens who want a different EU can turn out to be extremely important, although the initial reactions from the EU elite were as negative as they were predictable. The EU does not take criticism and debate lightly.
But with the UK’s forthcoming attempt to negotiate a less restrictive agreement with the EU, Pandora’s box has now been opened. Cameron’s rational reasoning will contribute to exposing the EU’s rigid insistence on more power despite the poor results. It will become increasingly difficult for both the Brits and other EU citizens to understand a firm rejection of Cameron’s five principles – competitiveness, flexibility, more power to the national states, democratic responsibility and fairness. That the EU will have to argue against such reasonable demands and as strongly as possible try to prevent referendums about them would only create more attention and more criticism not least because the Eurozone will come under further economic pressure as a possible referendum would be approaching in the UK in 2017.
It is a unique chance for the countries outside the Eurozone to create an independent forum chaired by Cameron. The Danish Prime Minister ought to have been on the first flight to London to discuss this. It did not happen, of course, but the hope for a better EU has been strengthened by Cameron’s newfound leadership.

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