EU more popular than ever?
A year before the elections to the European Parliament the EU's approval ratings are at record levels: more than two-thirds of EU citizens believe their country benefits from EU membership, according to the new Eurobarometer survey. Europe's media are delighted with the results but also point out that the sun isn't shining everywhere.
Too many citizens feel overlooked by EU
The Romanian service of the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, by contrast, sees the most recent Eurobarometer figures as an indication that many Europeans feel ignored:
“In his exchange of verbal blows with French President Macron in the EU Parliament, Manfred Weber, leader of the EPP parliamentary group, said that one of the reasons for Europe's lack of appeal was that people don't feel involved with it and tend to see the European project as something that has been imposed on them by external forces. This observation came as a surprise, because this time it didn't come from a Eurosceptic politician. ... The Eurobarometer published on Wednesday paints a pretty convincing picture of just that. ... Yes, in comparison with 2012-2016, the number of those who feel that they have a stake in Europe has gone up; nevertheless, at 48 percent it is still represents less than half of the population - while on the other side 46 percent feel left out in the cold.”
Europeans don't want populism
There is no majority for the proposals of the populists, Helsingin Sanomat concludes after assessing the results:
“When faced with an external threat, people tend to close ranks and seek protection from their own troops. The selection criteria offered by the populists for cultural identification fits the smallest possible group: those with the same nationality and the same skin colour. ... But according to the Eurobarometer this group isn't big enough for the Europeans. ... You can't react credibly to global threats with national measures. What is needed is transnational cooperation that isn't limited to trade relations. ... In recent years the parties have looked too often to where the loudest anti-EU voices were coming from. According to the survey, however, the great majority of voters is not there, and doesn't accept the noise makers.”
Eastern Europe's enthusiasm no accident
The high level of trust in the EU in certain Eastern European countries points to incompetence among their national politicians, political scientist Rūta Svarinskaitė suspects in Alfa:
“The Lithuanians are in the midfield compared to other EU countries when it comes to trusting local politicians and administrations. But very few trust the Lithuanian parliament (16 percent); Lithuania is third from last on that score. A paradox: Lithuanians who don't trust their own political authority are Europe enthusiasts. According to the Eurobarometer 65 percent of them trusted the EU in 2017. The situation is similar in Latvia and a few other fresh EU members like Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia. Is this stable trust in the EU a sign that we heartily agree with EU values? Or is it more indicative of a lack of trust in our own politicians and the desire for EU experts to compensate for our incompetence?”
Greek's dissatisfaction shouldn't be ignored
Based on the latest Eurobarometer survey a majority of Greeks are not happy with the economic developments in their country. Athens and Brussels bear joint responsibility for this state of affairs, says Kathimerini:
“When only two percent of the Greek respondents say that they are happy with the way the economy is going, then there's a problem. Since these two percent live in the same economic environment as the Germans, 91 percent of whom are satisfied with the economic development of their country, not just Greece but also the EU has a problem. Because it is doing all it can to back the current Greek government and its economic policy. But it is faced with a [Greek] society that doesn't even have the air it needs to breathe.”