Things are looking up for Europe. After years of austerity, high unemployment, and sputtering national economies, a sense of optimism is finally returning to the continent. According to the Spring 2018 Eurobarometer survey, a majority of Europeans (58%) are now optimistic about the future of the EU and feel good about the state of the economy.
The only places where a majority of people polled were pessimistic about the EU’s future were the UK (which is currently embroiled in the Brexit process), and Greece (where the EU is associated with punishing austerity measures). Optimism is highest in Ireland at 84%, and in Portugal, Malta, Lithuania, and Denmark, where it hovers around 70%.
Europeans are also feeling more confident about the economy, with a majority of respondents in all but three Member States now saying the EU’s economic situation is good. For the first time since 2007, more people in Europe feel positive about their country’s national economic situation than feel negative.
Yet, despite the optimism, there are clouds on the horizon. The threat of a trade war between the US and China has economists worried; Italy has a new populist government, and there is a real risk of an almighty bust-up over EU debt and deficit rules (not to mention immigration); and, on top of everything, the European Central Bank has recently announced an end to the quantitative easing programme that has helped prop up the EU economy since 2015. So, there are still plenty of reasons to temper optimism with caution.
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