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Friday, 9 February, 2001, 08:57 GMT
Europeans divided on their union

The latest Eurobarometer - the European Commission's public opinion survey - shows Europeans to be deeply divided on the EU's top issues of enlargement and the single currency.

Across Europe 44% of people said they support enlargement while 35% are against it, but there were strong local differences with Britain, Austria, France and Germany showing themselves the least in favour of it.

The Euro got an overall approval rate of 55% but countries which remain outside the Euro zone, particularly Britain and Sweden, came out against it.

In fact the Euro did better than the European Union itself - across Europe only 50% of people think that their country's membership of the union is "a good thing".

However there was resounding enthusiasm for a common European foreign policy with 65% of people expressing their support and for a common defence policy with 73% in favour.


Though Sweden put enlargement at the top of its agenda when it took over the presidency, European voters do not see it as such a priority.

Germans and Austrians who will see the most direct effects of the accession of countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary were the least enthusiastic about enlargement with more Germans and Austrians against it than in favour.

Surprisingly, the union's poorer members, who could lose out on subsidies when the new countries join were strongly supportive.

Brits were the least enthusiastic Europeans on almost all counts with only 28% saying EU membership was a good thing and 41% saying Britain had not benefited from its membership of the union.

Only Sweden was less favourable to the single currency than Britain - in both countries over 60% of the population is against it.

But people within the Euro zone seem happy with their new currency with Italy leading the field at 79%.

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See also:

11 Dec 00 | Europe
EU leaders reach agreement
12 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Prodi attacks veto 'intransigence'
31 Dec 00 | Europe
France ends EU presidency
08 Dec 00 | Europe
Bigger EU - smaller voice?
17 Jan 01 | Europe
Sweden shuns enlargement date
16 Jan 01 | Europe
Sweden lays out its plans
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