Posted on Jan 6, 2022, 5:00 PMUpdated Jan 6, 2022, 5:25 PM
Europe remains a subject which deeply divides the French. While the country took the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU) at the beginning of January, an Elabe poll for “Les Echos”, Classic Radio and the Montaigne Institute unveiled this Thursday reveals a real divide in public opinion on the advantages or disadvantages of this membership. The subjects that France wishes to highlight over the next six months are, on the other hand, popular.
Asked about the interest of belonging to the EU, the respondents are divided into three camps: 39% French believe that Europe brings as many advantages as disadvantages; 33% say that the disadvantages are more important and 27% on the contrary think that the advantages are greater than the disadvantages.
The euro divides
“Skepticism vis-à-vis the EU is slightly on the decline, but it remains a subject of very strong cleavage in public opinion”, notes the president of Elabe, Bernard Sananès. According to him, Brussels inspires distrust because the French are struggling to see its impact on their daily lives. “The argument ‘we are stronger together’ is of course understood by public opinion but the EU has difficulty in highlighting its advantages,” he analyzes.
Perfect illustration of this cleavage: the euro, which we have just celebrated its 20th anniversary. France is cut in two: 50% of those polled believe that the single currency was a bad thing for the country’s economic situation and purchasing power, while 49% think the opposite.
However, the French show a certain confidence in the European Union to protect it from globalization. According to the Elabe study, only 17% of those polled believe that France must continue to trade with all the countries of the world while 40% argue that the country must come to an agreement with its European partners so that together they can produce whatever they need. However, a very large number (43%) say that France must produce everything it needs on its territory, so as not to depend on other countries, including European ones.
However, the proposals that Paris wishes to put on the table during its presidency met with a very favorable echo in public opinion. 83% of those polled are therefore in favor of increased regulation of large digital companies, the famous Gafam. 81% of them support the creation of a “European civic service” for those under 25, which would offer university, apprenticeship, internship or association exchanges throughout Europe.
Better management of European borders is also popular. 79% of French people agree that products deemed to be too polluting should be taxed more when imported into the EU. They are as much to support the creation of an emergency support mechanism to help a Member State which would encounter a crisis at its borders. Finally, on the economic front, 75% of those polled agree to create a European minimum wage, which would have the mission of leveling up the lowest wages in the EU.
According to Bernard Sananès, these proposals are well received because they meet the aspirations of the French, who want a more social and protective Europe. “These are themes that speak to public opinion. If the EU manages to make people understand that together we are better protected, that will have a positive impact on its image. These proposals still have to go to the end, ”warns the president of Elabe.
Survey carried out on January 4 and 5 on a sample of 1,000 people representative of the French population aged 18 and over using the quota method.