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Do the Europeans love Europe?
I ran into a march last weekend (which is hardly surprising here in Berlin since there are an average of 15 demonstrations daily). Young people showed their sympathy for Europe. "Europe is an attitude" was written on a poster. And "I love Europe".
I suppose it was mostly students marching, students of different nationalities.
Europe is popular among students. Amongst other things, because of the Erasmus Programme. That is a European Union student exchange programme established in 1987. The programme has promoted the mobility of millions of students within the European community.
It is little wonder that people who experience the benefit of open borders firsthand appreciate Europe and the European Union. But what about the rest? What do Europeans as a whole think about Europe?
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The so-called Eurobarometer provides some answers.
Eurobarometer is a series of public opinion surveys conducted regularly on behalf of the European Commission and other EU Institutions since 1973.
In its recent edition (from 2019), 66 per cent of people in the EU see this European Union as a place of stability in a troubled world (28 per cent disagree with this statement; the rest is undecided).
Similar large majorities are in favour of a joint defence and security policy among EU Member States (71 per cent vs 19 per cent), a common trade policy (69 vs 21), a common energy policy (70 vs 20), and a common European policy on migration (65 vs 27).
So the European Union is given a fair amount of responsibility. It is, therefore, matching that more than two-thirds of the people within the EU (69 per cent vs 30) feel like EU citizens.
That doesn't have to mean that they necessarily love Europe. But a close attachment to the continent (more precisely to 27 countries of it) is noticeable.
Even discounting some bias in the survey results (after all, the survey is commissioned by EU institutions), the numbers still come as a bit of a surprise to me. I would have thought that Europeans were more sceptical about the EU. Of course, and again, you have to take into account the sender of the survey. But still, the people at the demonstration at the weekend do not seem to be a minority (anymore). I like this notion.