• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Germans happy with being EU top dogs

Tom Barfield · 3 Mar 2015, 11:38

Published: 03 Mar 2015 11:38 GMT+01:00

Among Germans, 69 percent told Gallup pollsters that they “approve” of the EU leadership's job performance in 2014.

That was well above the average approval rating of 49 percent across all member states, while just three other countries – Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg – topped 60 percent approval.

“[The results] might be an indication that some Germans now start to identify leadership within the European Union with their own government and with the Chancellor [Angela Merkel] herself, of whom they very much approve at the moment,” Professor Michael Wohlgemuth of think tank Open Europe Berlin told The Local.

He pointed out Merkel's leading role in both economic and foreign policy in the past year.

Seeing her take the lead in dealing with the Greek debt crisis and tackling Russian aggression in Ukraine have likely helped Germans conflate their own country's policy with that of the EU.

Good mood hangs on economy

But Wohlgemuth also points out that confidence in EU leadership may only be as robust as the German economy.

“If you look at growth, business confidence and certainly the labour market, people don't feel the need to blame the European Union or anything. We feel good compared to other member states,” he said.

“If the situation in Greece turns bad, at some time it might declare a default and people would see, whoops, after all we will have to pay.”

That would be a serious blow to Germans' belief in the good management of the EU and the Eurozone, Wohlgemuth said.

Pollsters at Gallup agree, saying in their report that “economic perceptions are an important part of EU attitudes.

“Europeans who evaluate economic conditions as good or excellent are almost twice as likely to approve of the EU's leadership and considerably more likely to want their country to stay in the EU as those who view conditions as poor," the report said.

They anticipate that stronger predicted growth of 1.3 percent for the eurozone in 2015 should boost the Union's standing among citizens of member states.

Germany alone among big EU nations

Majorities in half the 28 EU countries approved of the way the EU was led: those favourable are largely found in the wealthier northern and western nations.

But Britain and France, mainstays of the Union's economic power and each representing more than a tenth of its population, were far more sceptical, giving just 35 percent and 42 percent approval, respectively.

Only 28 percent of French people and 23 percent of Brits thought that their country's EU membership had left them better off than they were five years ago.

Unsurprisingly given the perception among its citizens of being ruled by unpopular policies from Brussels and Berlin, Greece trailed the table with just 23 percent approval.

Other countries which suffered through the economic crisis and are now showing renewed signs of life, such as Ireland and Portugal, rebounded to pre-2012 levels of approval.

But Spain, which has yet to return to an economic even keel – and where left-wing populists Podemos are hoping to ape the success of Greece's Syriza in December elections – showed less than half of respondents in favour of how the EU is run.

Story continues below…

At 47 percent, it remained 12 points below the 59 percent measured in 2008.

EU membership still popular

All 16 countries the pollsters surveyed by telephone wanted to remain in the EU – even those with high rates of disapproval of how the EU was run.

In Germany, 87 percent were in favour, second only to the Irish – at 88 percent – in their enthusiasm.

But 73 percent of the French and 60 percent in Britain were also keen to remain a part of the Union.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Barfield (tom.barfield@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Six burning questions for British expats about Brexit
Photo: DPA.

Uncertainty has kicked in over Brexit and what it may mean for Brits living in Germany.

Merkel demands German vote on EU free trade deal
Photo: DPA

Angela Merkel said the German parliament should be consulted on the EU's free trade deal with Canada, setting her on a collision course with the European Commission.

Red-faced pensioner declares war on pre-recorded sexline
Photo: DPA

An 84-year-old from Bavaria has reported a sex hotline to police after it let down his expectations of late night lust - and then charged him through the nose.

Brexit vote
Brexit 'doesn't pose big risk' to German economy
Car manufacturing at Volkswagen. Photo: DPA

While the financial markets have been thrown into disarray by the Brexit vote, leading experts on the German labour market say the country is easily strong enough to cope.

Berlin colony says no to more 'non-Germans' in its gardens
One of the many small garden colonies in Germany. Photo: DPA.

A public Berlin garden colony has come under fire for denying two Turkish families allotment spaces, saying there are already too many 'non-Germans' using the allotments.

Germany experiences highest birth rate in 15 years
Photos: DPA

Germany is experiencing a mini baby boom - but a veritable "death boom" is more than balancing out the score sheet.

Monsanto still 'open' to deal with German chemical giant
An Indian Monsanto farmer seen at work in 'Sweet Corn' field at Monsanto Bangalore Centre. Photo: EPA.

Monsanto said on Wednesday it was still open to a potential merger with Bayer, or to another big deal, as it reported lower earnings due to a tough agricultural market.

Shock birthday party attack at campsite leaves one dead
A broken fence posts found at the campsite. Photo: DPA.

Violence erupted at a campsite birthday party in Lower Saxony leaving one dead, police reported on Wednesday.

Trabi totalled on Autobahn after skidding on snail slime
Photo: Paderborn police

A vintage East German "Trabi" car has come unstuck after its driver hit a snail trail on the Autobahn.

Munich 'to spend extra €2.2m' on Oktoberfest security
Oktoberfest in Munich, 2014. Photo: DPA.

After terror attacks in Paris, Brussels and most recently Istanbul, Munich could spend nearly €3 million more on security and other measures - but terrorism isn't the only concern: the biggest fear is overcrowding.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
7,912
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd