Published On: Fri, May 19th, 2017

MAPPED: What European people REALLY think of the EU (and it's not good news for Brussels)

A landmark study of Europe’s hundreds of regions paints a bleak picture for embattled eurocrats, with the bloc only scoring positively in areas which receive billions in centralised funding. 

In total fewer that one in seven Europeans say they have a good opinion of Brussels whilst a third view the workings of eurocrats in a negative light.  

Even in Germany, supposed the beating heartland of the europhilia, people’s attitudes towards the European Union as an institution are less than lukewarm. 

And unsurprisingly the bloc scores worst of all in Greece, which has undergone a decade of recession, and Britain which last year voted to quit altogether. 

The map was compiled by researchers from Cohesify, a Brussels-backed project which is looking to establish the impact of EU funding on attitudes towards the project. 

It found that people in areas which receive the most cash from the bloc’s Cohesion Fund, such as Eastern Europe and rural Spain, boast the only “positive” views of Brussels. 

In contrast, in areas which previously received high funding levels but have had them withdrawn, public perceptions of the EU have noticeably cooled. 

The only sliver of comfort for Brussels is that, overall, most voters across the continent feel “attached” to the idea of a European community even if they view the EU negatively. 

People surveyed were split into five categories, based on a combination of how they perceive the EU institutions and how “attached” they feel to the idea of European unity. 

People were considered positive overall, neutral in both respects, neutral but attached, negative but still attached or negative and neutral towards the bloc. 

The results showed that only 13.6 per cent of Europeans view the project positively, compared to 31 per cent who see it negatively and 55.4 per cent who are neutral. 

However, the figures also show that 77.1 per cent of all those surveyed feel attached to the idea of European cooperation, showing the image of the EU as a peace project still cuts through. 

The researchers concluded: “Perceptions of what the EU does do not go hand in hand with lack of attachment to the EU – there are no regions with predominantly negative image of the EU and no attachment to EU.

“Thus, citizens tend to be attached to or at least neutral towards the EU even if they disapprove of what it does. 

“Interestingly, in the vast majority of regions with a predominantly negative image of the EU, the citizens tend to be attached to the EU

They observed that apathy towards the bloc tends to be clustered in its richest regions, in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Northern Italy which do not receive Brussels cash. 

However, they added this neutral viewpoint also extends to regions that were the main recipients of Social Cohesion funds before the eastern bloc countries join, like Portugal, Spain and Ireland. 

In contrast, the only overwhelmingly positive views of the project were to be found in countries like Poland and Romania, which “currently benefit from a huge inflow of EU funding, such as Poland or Romania”. 

The researches add: “One is also struck by the fact that many of the border regions are not necessarily particularly positive about or attached to the EU, as one could expect experience of interaction with neighbours across the border could strengthen EU identification.” 

Britain is, apart from London, overwhelmingly negative towards the EU even if Remain backing Scotland, although Northern Ireland has a broadly neutral view of the project along with its neighbour the Republic of Ireland. 

Finally, eurocrats will be concerned by the levels of negativity represented in Sweden, which will hold elections next year at which the eurosceptic Sweden Democrats party is expected to perform well. 

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