France likes to depict itself as the driving force of the European Union, however, its population is the least convinced of all EU members that the bloc has a rosy future according to a new poll.
Six months before European elections, a Eurobarometer poll out this week found that, while a large majority of Europeans, particularly younger people, are optimistic about the direction the EU is taking, the same cannot be said for the French.
France was the only member state out of the 27 in the bloc in which the number of pessimists about its future outweighs the optimists. Some 49 per cent held a dim view of the EU’s current trajectory with only 46 per cent remaining positive about its course - down from 52 per cent three years ago.
73 per cent of Europeans expect standard of living to fall
The vast majority of Europeans view their short-term future with some trepidation - some 73 per cent expect their standard of living to fall next year - a six-point drop compared to a previous survey conducted in March 2023.
However, that has not stopped 60 per cent overall from expressing optimism for the future of the EU. The rate even reaches 66–67 per cent in the 15-39 age group, compared with 55 per cent for those aged 55 and over.
Danes and Irish most confident
The Danes and the Irish came out as the most confident about the EU’s future, both on 83 per cent “very” or “fairly” optimistic. The figure was 58 per cent for Germans - the other half of Europe’s “Franco-German motor”.
But the French were significantly less positive than Hungarians, on 55 per cent, despite, or perhaps because of prime minister Viktor Orban’s frequent run-ins with the European Commission.
61 per cent think membership positive
Meanwhile 61 per cent of Europeans consider that their membership of the Union is positive, and 72 per cent believe that their country has benefited from it. That number is up from 50 per cent in 2010. Once again, France is among the least convinced, on only 56 per cent.
This overall positive statistic led European Parliament President Roberta Metsola to say: “This Eurobarometer shows that Europe matters. In this difficult geopolitical and socio-economic context, citizens trust the European Union to find solutions. A vast majority of Europeans believe that EU actions have had a positive impact on their daily lives.”
48 per cent think things ‘going in wrong direction’
However, across the 27 countries as a whole, 48 per cent of respondents felt that “things are going in the wrong direction”, compared with 33 per cent who thought they were “going in the right direction”.
As for the European elections, which take place next June, only 28 per cent of Europeans are aware of the election dates even if a majority, 57 per cent, say they are interested.
In France, Marine Le Pen’s Eurosceptic National Rally party is polling to come first in the June ballot, on 28 per cent, with President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance group trailing by eight points.