In the run-up to the 23 to 26 May European Parliament elections, a new survey conducted by YouGov for the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations found that in the EU's most populous countries approval of EU membership is high, even at a record high.

Among the good news is that two thirds of Europeans agree that the body is a force for good. At the same time, a majority fears that the EU might fall apart in the next 10 to 20 years. In France and Poland, a full one third of voters and in Germany over a quarter say that a war between member states in the next decade is a "realistic possibility". 46% of France’s far-right Rassemblement National’s backers and 41% of the supporters of Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AFD) hold this view. In France, only 15% say the political system is working satisfactorily.

The poll found that majorities in 11 of the 14 countries that were polled – including France (58%), Germany (50%), Italy (58%), the Netherlands (52%), Poland (58%), Romania (58%), Slovakia (66%) and Sweden (44%) – say that the EU could collapse by 2039. The outlook in Spain is somewhat better: only 40% of respondents fear collapse.

The survey found that many Europeans are today are fearful and stressed, particularly in Italy, Hungary, and Greece. But in Germany, Poland, Spain, Austria, and Romania those polled expressed optimism. And in Denmark and Sweden, voters said that they were “happy” and “safe”.

The survey shows that young people above all are fearful of conflict in the EU – with 46% of young voters in France concerned about the outbreak of war.

Climate change is also a rising priority with over two-thirds of Italian, Hungarian, Austrian, German, and Polish voters viewing it as a major threat.

The bulk of supporters of mainstream parties still say that they see the EU as garauntor of peace. This includes the likely voters of France’s En Marche (77%), Germany’s Green Party (84%), Italy’s Partito Democratico (83%), Poland’s Platforma Obywatelska (74%), and Spain’s Partido Socialista Obrero Español (79%).   

The survey found that as many as 97 million people planning to vote could still support different parties than the ones they currently favor.

[Text: Paul Hockenos]