• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

French public opinion and Europe: Winds of change?

With the European Parliament elections approaching, the number of EU-related opinion polls is growing. Beyond the mere voting intentions, these surveys help get a clearer picture of how citizens see Europe in various countries.

Two separate opinion polls published in France over the past few days caught our attention. Just in case you don't read our press summary every day - France is a particularly interesting case, given that the anti-EU Front National may well win the most votes in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

The first poll, conducted by IFOP and published by French news site Atlantico over the weekend, found that 59% of French would be in favour of France "reconsidering the Schengen agreements [which created a passport-free travel zone in Europe] and restraining the conditions for the circulation and the establishment of European citizens on its territory."

A separate OpinionWay poll for Le Figaro and LCI found that, while a solid majority of French want to keep the euro, the number of those against a return to the franc dropped from 62% to 53% since April 2012. Also, the share of respondents who think EU membership is "a good thing" for France went down from 48% to 42% over the same period - again, still a relative majority.  

Interestingly, one of the questions in the poll was, "Which one of these feelings comes to mind when you think of the EU?" Well, 45% said 'disappointment', 18% 'hope' and 12% 'indifference'.

It would be exaggerated to claim that the French are turning their back on the EU, but the winds do seem to be changing somewhat, and the French electorate seems to be shifting towards a less idealistic approach to the 'Europe' issue. Looking at the bigger picture, this also highlights that, without sweeping reform of the EU, the risk is that voters will increasingly turn to anti-EU and anti-immigration parties - and potentially throw the baby out with the bathwater.

An increasing number of politicians across Europe have realised this, including in France. Rachida Dati, a French MEP from the centre-right UMP party, told our pan-European EU Reform Conference last month that the "disregard" of the EU elite for the citizens had to stop, adding that "it is the peoples that must impose their will to Brussels and not the other way around".


Anonymous said...

A comment from Open Europe on this manifesto by French left and center-left economists, politicians, journalists ? http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2014/02/16/manifeste-pour-une-union-politique-de-l-euro_4366865_3232.html

It seems to me that although I have a few issues with what they say, at least this could be the end of the "one-size-fits-all" idea that President Hollande expressed more than once, even among the French left, and that could be a huge step forward for Eurozone as well as for non-Euro members such as the UK.

Anonymous said...

French, like Irish, enthusiasm for the EU was bought by the massive subsidies for farming (France more so than Ireland) and massive amounts of money for infrastructure from roads to the new roof on the pétanque court.

Unlike in the UK, in Ireland and France the numerous projects whole or part funded by the EU had a big sign detailing the fact and the amount for months before and after the work. Thank you EU! Gimme some more.

Alas the money has dried up now that the Money Fairy has crash landed, so without the bribes....

Hell hath no fury like the bribed scorned.

Freedom Lover said...

As I care little for the EU, I find the thought that voters in future will increasingly turn to anti-EU and anti-immigration parties - and potentially throw the EU baby out with the bathwater - to be most pleasing. Quite something to look forward to, in fact!

Average Englishman said...

When I read above that Open Europe had compared the EU with a baby (that should not be thrown out with the bathwater) my initial reaction was: ridiculous - some baby.

However, after further consideration I accept that babies are indeed like the EU in so far as they are selfish, egocentric parasites that are bombastic, demanding, very expensive to keep, in need of a lifetime of education and are incapable of providing any practical benefits to those around them.

Still, babies are very unlike the EU in that they are not totalitarian in character and on the whole, they tend to listen with respect to what is said to them by the people who created them and accept their authority. So overall, I think my initial assessment of O.E.'s comparison was correct.

This 'baby' EU that evolved from the far more cuddly Common Market has become a perverted monster. I believe that it should be ditched immediately with or without bathwater and it would seem that the population of France are slowly but surely coming to agree with me (well they always have been a bit slow on matters of freedom when compared with the Average Englishman); OK if you're French, that last comment was meant to be a joke and I accept it was a pretty poor one.

Anonymous said...

The anti eussr movement is growing throughout the region, even in Germany which is the one nation that has truly benefitted by it, taking over europe without having to fire a single shot, we can only hope that its growth increases exponentially and very quickly so we can be released from this monstrosity in far less time that the original eussr eastern bloc collapse.

Anonymous said...

but germany may end up paying for al he excesses

Anonymous said...

I vote (sorry, I forgot that that is not allowed in all things EU) that we throw the baby, bath water and the horrible parents who spawned this EU baby (i.e. our politicians) out too.


Anonymous said...

Average Englishman (really? I think that's selling the English very short):

"When I read above that Open Europe had compared the EU with a baby"

You didn't read that. What you read was a metaphor describing the "good" parts of the EU (what the authors meant by that, you know as well as I do) as a baby, and the "bad" parts as bathwater.

I respectfully suggest that your grasp of analogies is about as secure as your grasp of the rest of reality. Unlike the average Englishman, who I like to imagine is blessed with, if nothing else, better reading comprehension than that.