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Ireland reports greatest satisfaction of EU membership

Submitted by on 26 Jan 2019 – 14:27

There has been significant upturn in the support for Europe, following the UK referendum in 2016. More than 60% of Europeans believe that their country’s EU membership is a good thing, reaching a new high since the time between the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

Europe has gradually shed its murky outlook on democracy. This increasing optimistic outlook on the EU parallels with a 67% of them who consider their countries have benefited from being a member state, while it is contrasted by less than a quarter of respondents suggesting an opposing scenario in their country’s case.

Ireland has reported the greatest level of satisfaction for the European Union; with 85% of respondents saying that membership is a ‘good thing’. An even larger percentage of respondents felt that Ireland had benefitted from EU membership (92%), this compares to an EU average of 68% of people who feel their country has benefitted since joining the Union.

However, 40% of Irish respondents were ‘not interested’ in the upcoming European elections due to be held in May 2019. This represented a 4% decrease in interest for the EU Elections in Ireland since April 2018.

Based on a different Pew Research Center survey conducted in late 2017 across eight countries, younger Europeans are somewhat more supportive of the EU. In half of the European countries surveyed, people aged 18 to 29 were more likely to say EU membership has been good for their country’s economy.

In the UK, where leaders are currently negotiating the country’s exit from the EU, a strong majority of those under 30 (75%) said the institution has benefited the British economy. In comparison, only around half (53%) of Britons 50 and older said the same. The gap between the youngest and oldest groups was about as large in France.

Younger Europeans in most countries were more supportive of their national governments transferring more powers to the EU – although still only about one-third of those under 30 approved of such a measure. In Denmark, for example, 34% of those under 30 supported transferring more national powers to Brussels, compared with 27% of those aged 30 to 49 and only 16% of those 50 and older.

If there was a referendum on EU membership today, only the Czech Republic and Italy would vote to leave, with 83% of the Irish public voting to remain. Interestingly, if there was a vote today, 51% of Britons surveyed would choose to remain.

The results of the census suggest that an increasing positive view on EU membership is correlated with perceptions that regionalism has brought ‘good governance’ and improved democracy. However, this is generally the norm for smaller members. Concurrently, citizen engagement remains higher at a national level than a regional one. While 68% of the electorate believed it was important to vote in national elections, only 49% considered it important to participate in European elections.

Importance of voting does not always equal turnout. While only a minority of 12% express concerns relating to accessibility, non-participationor lack of interest in elections related to distrust in political systems and lack of confidence about the power of the electorate.
The 2018 Parlemeter also took a closer look at citizens’ views on the upcoming European Parliament elections, showing an overall increased awareness about the next ballot while painting a multi-coloured picture of opinions and attitudes about the elections.

According to the survey, there has been an increase in the level of awareness about elections. Compared to a similar survey conducted six months back, 41% of Europeans could correctly identify the election date in May 2019, recording a 9% increase.

However, 44% still could not say when the elections will be taking place. With 51% of citizens declaring to be interested in the elections, citizens’ campaign priorities have evolved over the past six-month period.