Is the Crisis of Confidence in the EU over? European Identity and the Image of the EU

Essay 2014 13 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: European Union




Belief in economic integration

Optimism about near future

Support for the Euro

Support for the European Institutions
The European Union
The European commission
The European Central Bank
The European Parliament

The EU do provides enough financial aid

Voice of the citizens in the European Union

Public reaction on the EU’s actions

No to more power in future




In February 1992, it was mutually decided among twelve member states of the European Union to introduce the Euro by 2002, with signing of the Maastricht treaty. Although, this was a monetary action taken by the Union, many consider it as a historical step towards building a common European identity. The polling data as of now reaffirms the same as most of the European citizens state that the Euro symbolizes the European Union (European Commission, 2014). It is further observed through surveys that European citizens did feel European initially; however there was a sharp decline in the feeling of being European and support for the European institutions after the euro crisis. The idea behind creating a common market 1957 through the Treaty of Rome was that participating member states would be benefited through economic integration. European citizens seemed to lose their faith in that idea with the eruption of the euro crisis. Many have observed that the European Union is not only going through financial and identity crisis but also facing the crisis of confidence. “The European Union is the new sick man of Europe” (PEW Global, 2013).

The crisis of confidence is not only limited to the European Union functioning but people are losing confidence in the political and financial elites and other European Union institution as well. There is wide gap between decision makers in Brussels and the citizens. In a nutshell, its democratic deficit, global economic situation, debt crisis, mismanagement and lack of integration and harmonization in certain areas are causing the European Union to face financial, identity, confidence crisis at the same time.

The recent survey by the European commission and PEW research center show that citizen’s confidence has increased since the new commission took office. The number of respondents who hold positive image of the European Union and has confidence in its decisions has increased. European citizens who hold negative image of the European Union has decreased by 3 per cent. “We have observed that the recovery is gaining ground and the negative image is diminishing" said Charles de Marcilly, head of the “Robert Schuman Foundation”. Juncker commission with the announcement of € 315 billion investment plan in the first month after assuming office, had a positive effect on confidence level of Europeans.

Following analysis is widely based on the two documents. Report published by the PEW Research Center Survey on Global Attitude and Trends of May 2014 and latest Eurobarometer of Autumn 2014 published by the European Commission.

- Some positive signs

Belief in economic integration

Figure 1. Belief in Economic Integration (per cent of saying that economic integration has strengthened their national economies)

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Source: PEW Global, 2014

Most of the member states are of the opinion that integration hasn’t strengthened their economies between 2009 and 2013. According to survey carried out by the PEW Research Center in 2013 reveals that the level of belief in idea of economic integration for strengthening their national economies fallen sharply in France and Italy by 21 and 20 points respectively. Only 26 per cent of respondents agreed that economic integration has a positive effect on their country. In 2014, the picture is little positive with the increase of 12 per cent. People are regaining the confidence in economic integration but not in all the member states. A positive increase was seen in Germany, United Kingdom and Poland where majority view economic integration is positive. Furthermore, almost two third in Italy, France, and Greece and 56 per cent in Spain still are of the opinion that economic integration has deteriorated their national economic situation. So, the damage done by the euro crisis to the belief of people in the economic integration hasn’t yet repaired but further possible damage seems to have ended.

Optimism about near future

In 2013, majority of the people in crisis affected member states expected worse in near future mainly in Greece, France, Italy and Spain. The economies of Greece, Italy and Spain contracted in 2013 as expected by majority (Greece by -3.9 per cent, Italy by -1.7 per cent and Spain by -1.2 per cent). France grew marginally by 0.7 per cent (Eurostat, 2015). Few expected the economic situation to get better in near future.

Figure 2. Opinion on economic situation in near future (next twelve months)

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Data from PEW Research Center, 2013 and 2014

In 2014, Europeans seems to be little more optimistic about the near future. A positive increase is seen in number of people expecting better economic situation especially in Spain and United Kingdom. Spain has shown some positive signs in terms of GDP growth, which grew by 1.4 per cent in 2014 (Eurostat, 2015) and expected to grow by 1.6 per cent according to OECD data. In case of unemployment in Spain, it is falling faster than ever (Bird, 2015) which have contributed to the increase in optimism. France and Greece are little more optimistic about near future compare to 2013, the economies grew by 0.2 and 0.8 per cent respectively in 2014. A different picture can be seen in the latest Eurobarometer results where only 20 per cent of the Europeans expect better economic situation in next twelve months, 42 per cent expect the situation to remain same whereas 24 per cent expect the economic situation to worsen.

Support for the Euro

Despite the worsened economic situation, the support for the single currency remained strong. Surprisingly it has increased in many member states when compared to 2013 data, especially in Lithuania, Malta, Estonia, Luxemburg, Slovakia, Belgium, and Finland. Most strikingly majority in the Greece do support the Euro despite of economic downturn. Overall, 56 per cent Europeans supports the Euro against 36 per cent who do not support the Euro. There is large difference in support from Eurozone countries and Non-Eurozone countries, 67 per cent and 35 per cent support the Euro respectively. United Kingdom remained the most sceptic about the Euro, only 20 per cent support the single currency compared to 70 per cent against the Euro (European Commission, 2014).

As per the latest survey by PEW Research Centre, majorities in Germany, Greece, Spain and France support the Euro.

Figure 3. Support for the Euro (Percentage who think country should)

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Source: PEW Global, 2014

Ironically, Greece is suffering from the worst debt crisis and recession, still the support for the Euro is 69 per cent whereas Italy which is not doing as bad as Greece does not support the Euro and is of opinion that adopting the lira again could be a good option. Overall increased in the support for the single currency is a good sign for the recovery process and shows increased confidence in the Euro from the citizens.

Support for the European Institutions

The European Union

In many member states the support for the European Union as a whole is below the pre-crisis level especially in Spain and Italy. There are some positive signs as majorities in five member states including the United Kingdom (surprisingly) have a favorable and positive view of the European Union (Poland 72 per cent, Germany 66 per cent, France 54 per cent, the United Kingdom 52 per cent and Spain 50 per cent). France shown a sharp increase of 13 per cent compared to 2013. Germans who are of the opinion that economic situation is good, remain the major supporter of the European Union. Citizens of the United Kingdom and France who are expecting a favorable growth in near future support the European Union. Overall, there is a slight increase in the support for the European Union compared to 2013 data, but the majority of the citizens are of “somewhat favorable” opinion of the European Union (PEW Global, 2014).

Majorities in twelve member states hold a positive image of the European Union. There is an increase in the number of people holding a positive image compared to 2013 data. In the United Kingdom almost same number of citizens hold different image of the European Union (European Commission, 2014).

Figure 4. EU Favorability on the rise amongst young citizens

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Source: PEW Global, 2014



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Manipal University – MCES
crisis of confidence European Union PEW Research Center Survey on Global Attitude and Trends of May 2014 European Parliament European Commission




Title: Is the Crisis of Confidence in the EU over? European Identity and the Image of the EU