ROME, Italy– A recent article by the Pew Research Center delves into the question of how different European states view themselves and their neighbors and the results are almost comical. Among the eight EU nations surveyed, the Greeks have an overwhelmingly higher opinion of themselves than other countries do, while the Italians are the most self-effacing.
Seven out of eight of the nations polled found the Germans to be the most hardworking of any European people. The only state to disagree? Greece. The Greeks believe that they are the most hardworking of any European nation. Five of the remaining countries actually said they believe Greece to be the least hardworking of any Euro state.
The Greeks seem to have an inflated view of their own industry, and tend to place blame for their dismal economic situation on their membership in the European Union. According to a 2014 study, only 17% of Greeks think that economic integration into the EU has been good for Greece.
Greek self-appreciation may not be as deep as it seems, however, since polling reveals that a good majority of the Greek population—69%—supports sticking with the euro as national currency rather than returning to the drachma.
The Italians, on the other hand, win the award for being the most self-critical of any European nation, and consider themselves the “least trustworthy” of any country in the Union. Only two other nations—Spain and Germany—agree with Italy’s gloomy self-assessment, and Germany has Italy tied with Greece. The British find that, among Europeans, the least trustworthy are the French, while Poland and Greece would bestow this notoriety on Germany.
Analyzing the results of this survey, one cannot help but wonder whether Europeans generally stand so in awe of the Germans that they believe them to excel above all others both in good and bad. How else to explain that the Poles actually found Germany to be the least trustworthy of all Euro nations while at the same time being the most trustworthy? It seems that whenever a superlative came to mind, Germany was the winner by default. Germany was also voted least compassionate and most arrogant of EU nations by a majority of countries responding.
It comes to no one’s surprise that the Germans themselves believe their nation to be both the most hardworking and the most trustworthy of all European nations. What may cause wonder is that Britain agrees with this appraisal, as do France, Italy, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic.
The Greeks, on the other hand, dominate the negative side of the ledger, and every single nation surveyed found them to be worst at something—whether the least hardworking or the least trustworthy. Except the Greeks, of course.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.