Two French surveys on the European Union recently caught my eye.
On May 5, 2014, a Viavoice survey for Libération revealed that nearly two-thirds of participants — 64% — think the EU geographical area is too large. They would prefer that the EU be comprised of the six founding member states or only those countries using the euro.
Fifty-eight percent of the French participants believe that the EU imposes too many economic constraints.
When asked about the EU in general terms, 49% had a negative impression. Forty-five per cent viewed the EU positively. This is similar to various British polls I’ve seen this year. I saw one the other week which said that 51% of Britons approved of EU membership and 49% did not.
Like the British, a significant percentage of Frenchmen — 43% — are concerned that the EU is diluting their national identity as well as that of other member states. Forty-six per cent see the EU as driving opportunity for cultural diversity as a good thing.
From this it is clear that ‘little Englanders’ are far from alone in worrying about the EU project.
A CSA Institute survey for Nice-Matin and BFMTV on May 8 revealed that, over the past decade, an increasing number of French people have come to dislike the EU.
The CSA survey taken in 2004 showed that 67% of Frenchmen believed that membership in the EU was ‘a good thing’. Twenty-five per cent thought it was bad.
Today, only 51% approve of France’s membership; 38% do not.
The results were even worse in 2013: 52% (good) versus 41% (bad).
The CSA survey states that participants’ principal frustrations with the EU include growing unemployment, increased immigration and — as with the Viavoice survey — a loss of national or cultural identity.
The CSA survey also reveals that 78% believe EU officials are too out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Frenchmen and that there are too many senseless regulations coming from Brussels (72%).
These results give us some useful data with which to rebut British politicians and pundits who say the English are the only ones unhappy with the EU.