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Majority of Europeans Think EU Failed or was ‘Irrelevant’ During Coronavirus

A majority of Europeans believe that the European Union performed poorly in its response to the Chinese coronavirus, with even more saying that the bloc was “irrelevant” in confronting the outbreak, a poll has found.

A survey conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations across nine countries, representing two-thirds of the population of the EU, found that a majority of citizens felt that no-one was there to help them during the pandemic and that the bloc failed to rise to the challenge.

In Italy, 63 per cent of those surveyed said that the European Union failed them, with just four per cent listing the bloc as their most useful ally during the crisis. This is compared to 25 per cent who listed communist China as their most useful ally during the pandemic, which shipped in massive amounts of PPE to European nations, much of which subsequently turned out to be defective.

Majorities in Italy, Spain, and France all said that their opinion of the EU had worsened in light of the failure to respond effectively to the crisis.

“Perhaps more worrying than the large numbers who say the EU performed badly are the even larger numbers who say the EU has been irrelevant,” the study noted.

“In every country, more people believe this than believe the opposite – for example, more than half of respondents in France believe that the EU has been irrelevant,” the ECFR said.

The poll was conducted in France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, Sweeden, and Denmark, surveying 11,000 people.
The study went on to note that even with the widespread disappointment in the leadership of the European Union, most Europeans still believed that more cooperation and integration is required for self-preservation.

“The roots of new demands for cooperation do not lie in an appetite for institution-building but rather in a deeper anxiety about losing control in a dangerous world. It is about strengthening rather than weakening national sovereignty. This is a Europe of necessity rather than of choice,” the authors wrote.

There are, however, signs that the citizens of Italy — one of the hardest-hit countries by the pandemic– are increasingly in favour of leaving the bloc.

In April, a poll found that 40 per cent of Italians want to leave the European Union as well as the euro currency, compared to 41.7 per cent who were in favour of remaining in the institutions.

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