Saturday, December 18, 2004

Is Britain Anti-EU?

Notorious ex-BBC-host-fired-for-racism and fired UKIP MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk tells The Guardian that "more than 50% of British people don't want to be part of the EU".

Heh, Eurobarometer's latest EU poll (pdf) will disappoint him.

While in most relevant questions, the UK is still the last or close, on some issues the pro-side now has the edge - and its support grew. Really, there is just one question where Kilroy-Silk could cling to statistically significant rejection: asked whether their country benefitted from EU membership, the percentage of No outweighs Yes 45:39 (half a year ago this was 47:30). But this figure is worse for Cyprus and Sweden, and near breakeven for Austria and the Czech Republic - and people apparently see beyond material benefits, for when asked about whether the EU membership of their country is a good thing, people were much less negative - in the UK, Good outweighted Bad 38%:22% (after a deuce at 29% last time).

When asked about the EU's image, there was an almost precise three-way split of positive, ambivalent and negative British views: 32:33:31 (after 26:27:37). Hardcore EU-haters shrunk from 14% to 9%. When asked about EU institutions, there is strangely majority support for the 'Brussels bureaucrats' (i.e. the European Commission, the quasi-government whose members are chosen by the member countries): 39:34 (from a 26:39 rejection six months ago); while the European Parliament is nearing breakeven: 39:41 (from 30:44 last time).

And now the really strange things come: Support for a common foreign policy is below 50% only in the UK, but at 47:36 it still beats opponents by a margin (after a 39:39 deadheat last time). Support for a common defense policy is 55% at its lowest - in Sweden with its neutral history; in the UK, it jumped from 52 to 60%. And support for the EU Consitution beats opposition overwhelmingly in every country - even in the countries where supporters don't have absolute majority, Denmark at 44:36 (after 37:41) and the UK at 49:29 (after 42:24)!

(Here two more countries are worth to note: in Hungary, opposition jumped from 6 to 23% after the main right-wing populist opposition party adoped an Eurosceptic tone, while in Catholic Poland support rose from 62 to 73% despite the lack of a God reference in the Draft Consittution, and the Polish government's failure to keep any of the advantages under the Nice Treaty.)

In most EU countries, people would prefer faster building of Europe than what they perceive. This is true for Britain, too - tough in the file linked the weighted averages aren't calculated, I did it for ya' - the perceived speed averages 4.00 on a scale of 1 (standstill) to 7 (races ahead), the desired speed averages 4.25. (Six months ago it was the opposite: 4.23 vs. 3.97.) In this category the hardcore anti-EU people might either chose Standstill (12%, highest of all countries) or not answer, the sum of these is 23% (after 36%).

I think the moral of the story is that without a militantly anti-EU (and mostly foreign-owned, hehe) right-wing press, British Euroscepticism would pretty much match that of other European countries.


At 7:29 AM, Anonymous equiity said...



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