EU: Host quizzes Urmas Paet on European ’dissatisfaction’
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DW’s Tim Sebastian confronted senior MEP Urmas Paet over the future of the European Union during a tense grilling on the German broadcaster. The Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee appeared rattled after Mr Sebastian pointed to devastating polling about the future of the bloc. Mr Sebastian asked Mr Paet: “Is it any wonder then that so many in Europe feel the European project is in serious trouble?”
He cited “new polling and research from the European Council on Foreign Relations” that showed majorities in the biggest EU member-states were turning away from the bloc.
Mr Sebastian said: “Last month there was new polling and research from the European Council on Foreign Relations which showed that majorities in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria now judge the EU to be broken.
“In France, the figure was over 60 percent. Aren’t you worried about these high levels of dissatisfaction with the functioning of the EU?”
Mr Paet appeared taken aback by the polling, as the MEP insisted that he had not seen the cited polling figures.
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He continued: “The last figures I saw were a bit more optimistic.
“But this is every day’s work, to explain why it is so important that European countries are together and make cooperation because what is the alternative?
“If we are alone, nobody can balance with China or Russia or other big players. It goes for security and economic point of views.”
The poll showed most respondents had little confidence in the EU or said their confidence had deteriorated.
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In particular, majorities in France (62 percent), Italy (57 percent), Germany (55 percent), Spain (52 percent) and Austria (51 percent) said the EU project was “broken”.
The report suggested the bloc’s poor response to the pandemic and slow vaccine rollout had struck a blow to confidence in EU leadership.
The report’s authors, ECFR senior policy fellows Susi Dennison and Jana Puglierin, said: “The fact that two of the EU’s largest and most influential states – France and Germany – are the least convinced about the need for European cooperation underlines the urgency with which the EU needs to up its game.”
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They added: “Both countries have important national elections coming up in the next year, which may present a challenge for the EU’s leaders.
“Our polling data indicates that the EU has used up its second chances.”
Another recent poll from EU voters showed that many voters in the EU would be willing to consider their own nation’s exit from the bloc if Brexit works out well for the UK.
The poll for Euronews by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, released two weeks ago, showed half of the Italian respondents and a majority of French and German voters said they would be more likely to support leaving the union if the UK and its economy are in a good state in five years time.
Last week, 16 right-wing Eurosceptic parties struck an alliance calling for strengthening nation-states against Brussels power-grabs.
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