Across Europe, it’s not just the UK where many people are dissatisfied with the performance of the European Union.
Just take a look at the chart below, for example.
From ANZ, using analysis provided by the US-based Pew Research Center, it reveals the proportion of people who approve of the EU, and those who disapprove. The results were based on responses from around 1,000 people from each nation surveyed, with the data collected before the UK referendum was held.
With the exception of the top three, most nations, including the likes of Germany, Spain and France, were evenly split on their views towards the EU.
According to Pew Research, just 51% of respondents across the ten countries surveyed had a favorable view of the European Union. 42% stated that they wanted more power returned to their national capitals, while only 19% favoured giving Brussels more power. 27% stated that the would like the status quo maintained.
Given those results, along with the UK referendum result, it’s little wonder why so many believe that the biggest threat to come from the Brexit vote is not its impact on the UK economy, but the ramifications for the EU as a whole.
Brian Martin, head of global economics at ANZ, picks up on that point.
There has been rising dissatisfaction within the EU following the recent financial and economic crisis, rising immigration – exacerbated by the recent refugee crisis – and national security. Legitimately, valid questions overhang the appetite of member states’ for deeper EU integration. Whilst there is no urgent call for the break-up of the EU, the voices calling for referenda on EU membership are getting louder with national views on the EU mixed.
With the prominence of eurosceptic political parties growing, and several key elections scheduled to occur in the year ahead, it’s little wonder why markets are fretting about the potential for other nations to join the UK in exiting the EU.
There is clearly great dissatisfaction with the EU across the continent, and if the second largest member can leave, what’s stopping other nations from doing the same?
Many may see that as unlikely, but the same was said before the UK had its say.
With markets understandably nervy, Martin suggests that this week’s EU leaders summit in Brussels — beginning today — will be crucial in helping to bolster confidence, not only for markets but the greater populous as a whole.
It is thought the EU will discuss key issues of concern to the EU electorate like immigration (including refugees, where resentment seems high), security and ongoing integration and what can be done to avoid a rise in “leave” contagion and improve the cohesiveness of the EU.
Targeting specific solutions to specific issues that national governments face would seem to be a practical way forward.
It sounds simple, but as many have learnt in the post financial crisis years, practicality and rationality are not always replicated in reality, especially when it comes to European politics.