Confidence in the EU’s ability to handle crises has taken a hit from Covid-19, a major survey shows, but dissatisfaction with national political systems is even higher and most people still support EU membership and want a stronger, more cooperative bloc.
The report’s authors suggested the polling should be a wake-up call for Brussels, warning that while public support for the broader European project remained high in many countries, it was fragile and would not easily survive more disappointment.
Europeans were “making a distinction between the need for cooperation and solidarity at a European level, and their confidence in the EU to deliver”, they said, and were unhappy the bloc had “missed an opportunity to prove its worth”.
The polling also suggested Brexit had changed Europeans’ views of the UK, with the prevailing view now seeing Britain – like the US – as a “necessary partner” to be “strategically cooperated with” rather than an ally, and one in four Germans and one in five French and Spanish respondents considering it as a rival or adversary.
The report, published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on Wednesday, suggested the bloc’s poor early response to the pandemic and slow initial vaccine rollout had dealt a heavy blow to confidence in its capabilities.
Photo: A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) waits for people to come for testing at a newly opened drive-in coronavirus testing station in Prague, Czech Republic. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK
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