The Daily Update – Highest Support for The EU in 35 Years... but not Everywhere

“Survey shows highest support for the EU in 35 years” – the triumphant, if not misleading, words of a EU Parliament publication today – exactly one year before the European elections in 2019 (you know, the one we Brits won’t be involved in). A survey by Eurobarometer that covered almost 28k people from all 28 EU countries showed that “two thirds of Europeans believe their country has benefited from being a member of the EU” and “consider EU membership a good thing”. Great! I suppose no one needs to be concerned that yields on 2-year Italian debt has doubled in the past month because, on the whole, Italians must still be enamoured with the Union if Europe-wide support for the EU is at its highest since measurements began in 1983…

But generalisations about European views and metrics are rarely accurate, and the contrast amongst member-states is telling of a different narrative. If 80% of those responding in Denmark believe that their voice counts in the EU, is that a sign of Union solidarity when 70% of Italians disagree and feel voiceless? Is it a sign for optimism that 81% in Ireland think that “EU membership is a good thing” when less than half that in Italy would agree? It’s through these wide ranges of results that the EU Parliament decided to publicise and celebrate the admittedly high aggregate results and (at their peril) leave it at that. But countries like Italy are clearly frustrated with the system and a celebration that everyone else seems to be happy is unlikely to make them become more upbeat. (The poll also stated that 32% of respondents already know the exact date of the European elections next year... which for some could raise doubts of sampling bias.)

Regardless, we continue to see little value and unaddressed/unsustainable net foreign debts amongst a number of EU members. If these debts were unable to be resolved when political strength and will were much stronger than they are now, it's increasingly likely that at some point there will be no further stretch of road to kick the can down, and no strength left to kick it. Interestingly, in what is perhaps the first time, Mario Draghi last week joined others in explicitly conceding that, “We need an additional fiscal instrument to maintain economic convergence during crises and to avoid overburdening monetary policy.” But it seems, perhaps, politicians are too busy celebrating their “highest support on record” to heed his concerns and his call for reinforcement.

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