News Item, , G├╝tersloh: Irish want to stay in EU

Survey: 92 per cent are against Ireland leaving the European Union -- Majority of the British are also in favour of remaining in the EU

This minority is largest in the United Kingdom. 32 per cent of the British are in favour of leaving the EU, whereas 59 per cent would prefer to remain in the EU. In Austria 17 per cent are in favour of leaving, whereas 74 per cent are in favour of EU membership. In France and Italy only 15 and 16 per cent of the population are in favour of leaving the EU. 81 per cent of the French and 76 per cent of the Italians want their countries to remain in the EU. The approval rating for the EU is very high in Poland, where only 7 per cent of the interviewees want the country to leave the EU, whereas 83 per cent are opposed to such a step.

If one asks opponents of the EU to explain their views, pride of place goes to fears that Brussels intrudes too much upon national policymaking. Among those in favour of leaving the EU this point of view is shared by 94 per cent in the United Kingdom, 82 per cent in Ireland, 76 per cent in Germany, and 74 per cent in Austria. In second place comes the complaint that the EU is out of touch with its citizens. The statement "The EU represents the interests of citizens insufficiently" is considered to be true by 82 per cent of the German, 81 per cent of the British, 77 per cent of the Austrian and 70 per cent of the Irish opponents of the EU.

Joachim Fritz-Vannahme, director of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's "Europe's Future" programme, sees the high approval rates for the EU, especially in Ireland, as an encouragement for the European heads of state and government at today's summit meeting in Copenhagen and a sign that they should adhere to the Treaty of Lisbon. "A second Irish referendum would give the EU constitutional treaty another chance," says Dominik Hierlemann, European Policy project manager. "But first the government in Dublin must mount a vigorous campaign in favour of the Treaty. And it must be serious about criticism that it has not been doing enough. The majority of the Irish are profoundly pro-European. But they want to be able to influence the direction and the content of policymaking in Brussels."