The European Commission today announced the results from the latest Eurobarometer poll - carried out in May during the height of the crisis - with a press release carrying the headline,"EU citizens favour stronger European economic governance". 75 percent of Europeans, we are told by the press release, are in favour of giving the EU a stronger role in the coordination of member states' economic and budgetary policies.
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding - who also is in charge of Communication - comments:
"The clear majority for enhanced European economic governance shows that people see the EU as a decisive part of the solution to the crisis".Clearly, something fishy is going in here, not least since only 26 percent of people then go on to say that they consider the EU best placed to deal with the financial and economic crisis.
And sure enough, the Commission is trying to take us for a ride. Respondents to the Eurobarometer survey were only asked whether or not "a stronger coordination of economic and financial policies among all EU member states" would be effective to combat the ongoing crisis (see p. 38 here). The question doesn't even mention the role of the EU or the term "European economic governance". Creatively, the Commission then adds up the respondents who think that stronger coordination would be "very effective" (26 percent) and those who only find it "fairly effective" (49 percent) to reach the 75 percent figure.
Seriously, how stupid do they think we are? By no stretch of the imagination is this the same as 75 percent of Europeans being in favour of giving the EU more powers to monitor national economies, which the Commission is trying to make us believe in its press release.
The Eurobarometer could have asked this question instead: “Do you think that the EU should be given more powers to monitor your country’s economy, including decisions on public spending and taxation?” We suspect the result would have been completely different.
What the Commission really should be focussing on is the troubling fact that only 49 percent of respondents think that EU membership is "a good thing" down from 53 percent last year. Or that the percentage of people who think that EU membership is "a bad thing" has reached its highest level in a decade - now at 18 percent (see p. 12).
What's more, the percentage of people who think that EU membership is a good thing has decreased by 5 percent in France and the Netherlands, for example, and by a striking 10 percent in Germany (down to 50 percent) in only one year. Incidentally, these countries are all net contributors to the EU budget.
Is the Commission getting the hints? We hope so, but somehow doubt it.
Ps. If we were to use the same method as the Commission to support our claims, we could add up respondents who said that EU membership is "a bad thing" with those who said it is "neither good nor bad" (29 percent) to obtain a remarkable 47 percent of "EU non-enthusiasts".