0803 GMT November 29, 2020
The survey of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, carried out from mid-June to late July between the first and second waves of COVID-19, found a median of 66 percent of people polled approved of the EU, the Guardian reported.
Positive ratings were stable or higher in almost all countries, Pew said, ranging from a low of 58 percent in Italy to a high of 73 percent in Germany — the highest figure recorded there since the center first posed the question in a survey in 2004.
In the UK, which formally left the EU on January 31 this year to enter an 11-month transition period, 60 percent of respondents said they now held a favorable view of the bloc, an increase of six percentage points over last year and a historic high for Pew’s global attitudes survey.
Confidence in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership had increased significantly since last year in Germany, where it was up seven percentage points, the Netherlands (up six) and Italy (up six), while in Spain it reached a historic high, Pew said.
Trust in Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson however, was significantly lower.
Across the eight EU countries surveyed, a median of 36 percent of respondents said they were confident Johnson would do the right thing in world affairs. Even in the UK, trust in Johnson, at 51 percent, was lower than confidence in both French President Emmanuel Macron (64 percent) and Merkel (76 percent).
The survey confirmed Britain’s extreme polarization over the EU. About 71 percent of UK respondents aged 18 to 29 felt positively about the bloc, for example, compared with only 49 percent of those aged 50 and older – a 22-point division of opinion that was the largest of any of the nine European countries surveyed.
There was a similar 21 percentage point difference between respondents with a post-secondary school education and those without, and another of 29 points between people who identified on the political left and those on the right — both also the biggest divides in all the European countries covered.
The first survey of the UK since its departure also found 64 percent of respondents there felt the EU had done a good job handling the coronavirus outbreak — significantly more than the 46% who said the British government had dealt well with the pandemic.
In fact, Pew said, the British public stood out for having the worst assessment of their own country’s response to COVID-19 but also one of the most positive views of the EU’s response.
Despite the fact that Europe was home to some of the strictest measures to control the spread of the virus, including full national lockdowns, the survey suggested people in most EU nations approved not only of their national governments’ initial response to the pandemic, but also of how the EU had handled it.
Across the eight EU member nations, a median of 61 percent said the EU had done a good job dealing with the crisis. Approval was highest in Germany and the Netherlands, where 68 percent of respondents in each country approved of the bloc’s efforts. At least half or more in every EU country surveyed approved of the EU’s response.