Less than third of French see Europe as ‘hopeful’

The poll was conducted ahead of this year's forthcoming European Parliament elections

Less than one third of French people see Europe as something “hopeful”, with almost the same percentage calling it a “source of anxiety”, according to a poll ahead of this year’s European elections.

Just 29% of French people see Europe as “a source of hope”, according to the new poll by Odoxa - Dentsu Consulting for French news network FranceInfo.

This represents a significant drop in confidence when compared to a similar poll question in October 2003, which found that 61% of people saw Europe as hopeful.

In this new research published this week, a further 31% said that Europe was “a source of anxiety“, and two in five people (40%) said that it was “neither one or the other - neither hope nor anxiety”.

Only supporters of ruling party La République en Marche (68%) and the Socialist Party (57%) had a majority of people that believed Europe to be a source of hope.

Similarly, French people in general appear to have little faith in the effectiveness of the European Union.

The same poll found that 43% believe that it is an effective force against terrorism, and 29% said that it was working effectively on environmental issues.

Just 19% said it was effective on employment, and 18% on immigration and economic issues.

On the issue of the forthcoming European Parliament elections in May, the biggest issue on people’s minds was “buying power” - a key grievance of the gilets jaunes protesters since the movement began in November last year.

Over a third (36%) said buying power would be their biggest concern when it came to voting in the EU elections, followed by immigration (27%), security and fighting against terrorism (24%), and the environment (24%).

The structure of Europe (19%), health (14%), finance (14%) French identity (12%), unemployment (11%) and education (8%) came next on the list of priorities for voters.

Gaël Sliman, co-founder and president of Odoxa, said: “We know that these are the major priorities for the French, but it is likely that they - rightly or wrongly - do not believe that effective solutions to these problems are to be found at European level.”

The research also found that almost two thirds (62%) believe that Brexit will weaken the EU, compared to 37% who believe that “Europe will be rather strengthened by Brexit”.

Another poll, the economic barometre from Odoxa-Aviva Challenges-BFM Business, published this week, found that 78% of French people believe that “the UK has the most to lose [in Brexit], rather than the other countries of the European Union”.

Véronique Reille-Soult, social network analyst for Dentsu Consulting, said: “The spectacle shown by the British in recent months has quashed initial aspirations for leaving. The question is now no longer “With or without Europe?” but rather “Europe, yes, but how?"

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