A recent survey has found deep pessimism among the staff of the European Commission on a wide range of issues, including the course of European integration over the past decade and the likelihood of success of the EU’s strategy for economic growth. Some 63 per cent partially or totally agreed that “the European model has entered into a lasting crisis.”
The survey of 231 EU civil servants, commissioned by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, also recorded a lack of confidence in the state of the EU in other respects. Only 22 per cent said that European integration had “positively evolved” over the past ten years, with 43 per cent saying it had changed “negatively.”
To fight against anti-EU sentiment, Commission employees most often cited the need for national governments to “defend the European project,” some 84 per cent agreeing with this. Member-states have been reluctant to promote European integration in recent years, with the notable exception of Poland, which now holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
Only 26 per cent of those surveyed considered the EU’s austerity packages a significant cause of Eurosceptic sentiment, despite how controversial they have been in both donor and recipient countries. Over the past year governments that negotiated EU-IMF austerity packages were heavily defeated in elections in Ireland and Portugal.
The most recent Eurobarometer opinion poll, conducted for the European Commission a few months after Greece accepted its first EU bail-out, found a sharp drop in Greek people’s attitude towards the EU. Indeed 64 per cent of those surveyed said they distrust the European Commission while 65 per cent distrust the European Central Bank. 71 per cent consider the EU to have “not effectively” handled the economic crisis. On each of these questions Greek people were the most likely of the citizens of all EU member-states to hold a negative attitude towards the EU.