Adults in Five Largest European Countries Have Mixed Feelings on Their Countries' Influence in the European Union

Adults in these countries do not believe their country should transfer more power to the EU over their national budgets

Jun 27, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent Financial Times/Harris Poll in the five largest European countries looks at the perception of each country's influence in the EU, as well as how each country's leaders are handling the economic crisis in Europe.  


Almost half of Britons (46%) say the United Kingdom's influence in the European Union is too weak, while 8% say it is too strong. At least one-quarter of other adults in the other four countries believe the UK's influence is too strong in the EU. Among French adults, almost half (45%) say their country's influence in the EU is about right, as do majorities in Italy (59%), Spain (58%) and Germany (51%), while 35% of British adults believe it is too strong.

Half of Germans (50%) believe their country's influence in the EU is about right, but this is definitely not an opinion shared by those in the other four countries, as almost half of Britons (48%), the majority of French adults (56%) and over four in five Italians (82%) and Spaniards (88%) say Germany's influence is too strong. Over three-quarters of Italians (76%) and Spaniards (77%) each say the influence of their country is too weak.

These are some of the findings of a Financial Times/Harris Poll conducted online by Harris Interactive® among 5,101 adults aged 16-64 within France (1,015), Germany (1,016), Great Britain (1,024), Spain (1,021), and adults aged 18-64 in Italy (1,025), between May 21 and 29, 2013. (Full findings and historical trends for all countries, including data tables, are available here)

Some other findings of this survey include:

  • While two in five Germans (41%) believe Angela Merkel is doing a good job in handling Europe's economic crisis, three in five Spaniards (61%) say she is doing a bad job and Italians are divided, with 36% saying she is doing a good job and the same percentage saying she is doing a bad job;
  • Half of French adults (49%) say Francois Hollande is doing a bad job handling the economic crisis in Europe, while almost half of Italians (45%) and 42% of Spaniards say he is doing neither a good nor a bad job;
  • Three-quarters of Spaniards (74%) say that Mariano Rajoy is doing a bad job of handling Europe's economic crisis, while two-thirds of Britons (64%) and half of French (50%) and German (49%) adults are not sure;
  • More than two in five Britons (44%) say David Cameron is doing a bad job of handling Europe's economic crisis, and almost half of Italians (45%) and two in five Spaniards (39%) say he is doing neither a good nor bad job;
  • Italians are divided on how Mario Draghi is handling the economic crisis in Europe. One-third say he is doing a good job (34%), an additional one-third say he is doing neither a good nor bad job (33%), and one in five say he is doing a bad job (21%);
  • About two in five adults in France (44%), Italy (41%), Germany (39%) and Spain (38%), as well as 31% of Britons, agree that Germany is right to say that greater competitiveness is the main answer to their countries' economic difficulties. But, three-quarters of Spaniards (73%), over half of Italians (56%), 42% of French adults and 37% of Britons disagree with the statement that Germany is right to urge tough austerity measures in their country even when growth is weak; 45% of Germans agree with this statement;
  • There are definitely mixed feelings towards Germany. Three-quarters of Italians (73%) and Spaniards (75%) believe Germany is showing not enough solidarity towards the rest of the Eurozone, while half of Germans (52%) say they are showing too much and one-third of French adults (33%) say Germany is showing about the right amount of solidarity;
  • Almost two-thirds of Spaniards (64%), half of Italians (51%) and about two in five Britons (44%) and French (37%) think Germany's call for greater fiscal and political union will lead to a more German-dominated EU. Two in five Germans (41%), however, do not think this; and,
  • There is one thing that adults in these five countries agree on – strong majorities in Germany (69%), Great Britain (66%) and France (58%), as well as half of Spaniards (51%) and Italians (48%), do not think their countries should transfer more power to the EU over their respective national budgets.

To see historical trends for all countries and other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

This FT/Harris Poll was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a total of 5,101 adults aged 16-64 within France (1,015), Germany (1,016), Great Britain (1,024), Spain (1,021), and adults aged 18-64 in Italy (1,025) between May 21 and 29, 2013. Figures for age, sex, education, region and Internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult populations of the respective countries. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls and the British Polling Council.

The Harris Poll® #41, June 27, 2012
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

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