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Backlash over EU crisis hits German popularity

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Photo: DPA
07:55 CEST+02:00
Germany's efforts to save the euro and urge other European Union countries to embrace austerity to crawl out of the economic crisis is being greeted negatively by people across the bloc, a new poll has revealed.

There is fear of a German-dominated EU, even though many agreed with the principle of increasing competitiveness in the face of crisis, the poll showed. And although the idea of a German-dominated EU is unpopular, the country's influence in the union is generally regarded as positive.

More than half of people in France, Italy and Spain felt Germany had too great an influence in the EU - with a huge 88 percent of Spaniards feeling this way.

Commissioned by UK newspaper the Financial Times, from the Harris Interactive pollsters, the survey showed that nearly half of British people (48 percent) felt the same, while just 22 percent of Germans thought their country had too much influence in the EU, and 16 percent said it was not powerful enough.

Of the Germans asked, 50 percent said their country had about the right amount of influence in the union.

Support for competitiveness

When asked whether they agreed with the idea that "Germany is right to say that greater competitiveness is the main answer to your country's economic difficulties," 31 percent of British agreed, while 28 percent disagreed.

Of the French, 44 percent agreed and 23 percent disagreed, while of the Italians, 41 percent agreed and 30 percent disagreed. Of the Spanish people asked, 38 percent agreed while 38 percent disagreed. And of the Germans 39 percent agreed and just 24 percent disagreed.

Another question asking whether people agreed with the statement: "Germany is right to urge tough austerity measures in your country even when growth is weak" found less agreement.

Of the Brits asked, 24 percent agreed while 37 percent disagreed. In France 25 percent agreed while 42 percent disagreed, while in Italy 20 percent agreed and 56 percent disagreed. In Spain just 15 percent agreed while 73 percent disagreed. And of the Germans, 45 percent agreed while 28 percent disagreed.

More German solidarity - and wealth transfer - wanted

When asked whether Germany was showing too much or not enough solidarity towards the rest of the eurozone, 52 percent of Germans said it was too much, while just eight percent said not enough.

But the Italians and Spanish wanted more solidarity, with 73 percent and 75 percent respectively saying there was not enough coming from the Germans, while 31 percent of the French said there was not enough, and 20 percent that there was too much.

The Brits were evenly divided, with 29 percent unsure, another 29 percent saying Germany was showing the right amount and 30 percent saying it was not enough. Just 12 percent said Germany was showing too much solidarity.

Asked whether Germany should transfer more of its wealth to weaker eurozone countries, it might be little surprise to find 63 percent of Germans disagreed, while 13 percent agreed.

The other countries polled were less firm on the point. Of the Spanish, 53 percent agreed, with just 18 percent against the idea, while Italians were 50 percent in favour, and 22 percent against.

The French were 33 percent in favour, 30 percent against and 37 percent undecided, while the British people were 37 percent in favour, 32 percent against and 31 percent undecided.

Concern at growing German influence

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When asked whether Germany's call for greater fiscal and political union would lead to a more German-dominated EU, the Spanish were most concerned it would, with 64 percent saying so. In Italy 51 percent said it would, 37 percent in France said so, and 44 percent of Brits thought so too. Just 27 percent of Germans thought so.

And when asked whether a more German-dominated EU would be good or bad for their own country, only the Germans said it would be a good thing. But only 47 percent were so sure, and 23 percent said it would be bad for Germany.

The Spanish were most afraid of such an outcome, with 76 percent saying it would be bad for Spain. The figures were similar in Italy where 70 percent said such an outcome would be bad for Italy. The figure was the same in the UK, while the French were not much more positive, with 63 percent saying it would be a negative thing.

Yet when asked whether Germany was a positive or negative influence on the EU, respondents were more welcoming. In Spain 23 percent said Germany was positive, while in Italy 24 percent agreed, and in France 38 percent said Germany was a good influence on the union. Even in the UK 31 percent said Germany was a good influence.

The Local/hc

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