We’ve been covering a series of town hall meetings between citizens and members of the European Commission recently as part of a continent-wide “Debate on the Future of Europe“. At each of these meetings, the audience has been asked if they think a “political union” is necessary to reinforce the European Union and finally bring an end to the crisis. The response has, for the majority of the meetings we’ve covered, been positive to the idea of stronger political union (though the Commissioners themselves have been somewhat divided, with Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, strongly in favour whilst Olli Rehn, Commissioner for the Euro, has been much more sceptical).
What does public opinion look like on this question across the EU? We’ve set out some of the available data in an infographic below (and you can click on the image for a higher resolution version). It’s certainly true that a huge majority would support greater decision-making at the European level on a number of issues, from protecting the environment to fighting terrorism and promoting democracy and peace. However, whilst 82% believe that the EU should have greater powers to protect the environment, only 7% of people consider the environment to be one of their key priorities. The issues that people really care about – such as unemployment and public debt – are issues over which the EU does not have much formal competency and that is unlikely to change in the near future.
Perhaps those countries that want to forge ahead with a stronger political union should just do so in a “two-speed” Europe? Interestingly, public opinion on this question is split fairly evenly, with 47% in favour and 40% against.
But what do YOU think about a stronger “political union” in Europe?