Crisis for Europe as trust hits record low

Poll in European Union’s six biggest countries finds Euroscepticism is soaring amid bailouts and spending cuts
Ian Traynor, Europe editor
The Guardian

EU flags
The poll found a vertiginous decline in trust in the EU in countries that were traditionally pro-European. Photograph: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

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, andPoland – 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.

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