Europeans Say Brussels Is ‘Intrusive, Inefficient, and Out of Touch’

ARMEND NIMANI/AFP/Getty Images
ARMEND NIMANI/AFP/Getty Images

The majority of Europeans say that European Union (EU) leadership is “out of touch” with the real needs of citizens, according to a survey released this week by the Pew Research Center.

While most Europeans credit the EU for promoting peace, democratic values, and prosperity, opinions turn negative when considering the EU’s ability to efficiently deal with concrete problems such as immigration, a factor that is sure to influence voters at the upcoming European elections which will be held on May 23rd.

A significant majority of Europeans (54 percent) from the ten nations surveyed believe the EU to be inefficient, whereas only 41 percent said that the EU is not inefficient, a perception that stems in part from the EU’s record on immigration.

There are “strong concerns about immigration in some countries,” the Pew report states. “Majorities or pluralities in most nations want fewer immigrants allowed into their country. Many believe that immigrants tend to remain distinct from the broader culture and that immigration increases the risk of terrorism.”

Pew discovered a “strong desire” in many countries for less immigration, with more than 70 percent of the population in Greece, Hungary, and Italy saying they favoured fewer immigrants.

The Pew study mirrored results from a sweeping poll conducted in 2018 covering all 28 EU states, which revealed that more than three-quarters (78 percent) of EU citizens believe that Europe’s external borders should be better protected.

That survey also found that a majority of Europeans believe that the influx of immigrants into their respective countries will increase both the crime rate and the threat of terrorism. A majority of citizens (57 percent) said that the influx of immigrants will change the culture of their countries.

The perception of migration has also changed, the poll found, and a majority of Europeans are now convinced that most migrants are attracted to Europe by “pull factors” such as Europe’s economy and welfare benefits.

This week’s Pew survey found that a majority of Europeans believe that the EU is intrusive in the life of its member-states, by an 8-percentage-point difference (51 to 43 percent), a perception that strengthens the favourable ratings of pro-sovereignty political parties and movements.

The poll also revealed that a sizable majority of Europeans (62 percent) think that Brussels is “out of touch” with the needs of citizens, as opposed to a mere 35 percent that believe the EU “understands the needs of its citizens.”

As would be expected, Pew found that people’s dissatisfaction with the European Union significantly increased among those who favour populist and nationalist political organizations, while the EU is more favourably viewed by young people and those on the political left.

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