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Communicating Europe Seminar hosted by Britain in the New Europe. James Humphreys Woodnewton Associates June 2008. This Seminar was held to explore the current state of the debate on the European Union in the UK and the context of public opinion. Research. Lowest in EU27.

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communicating europe seminar hosted by britain in the new europe

Communicating EuropeSeminar hosted by Britain in the New Europe

James Humphreys

Woodnewton Associates

June 2008

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

slide2

This Seminar was held to explore the current state of the debate on the European Union in the UK and the context of public opinion

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

research

Research

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

membership of the eu 1
Lowest in EU27Membership of the EU (1)

Q) Generally speaking, do you think that (COUNTRY’S) membership of the European Union is

EU27 UK

A good thing 58% 34%

A bad thing 13% 28%

Neither good nor bad 25% 31%

Don’t know 4% 7%

(EUROBAROMETER, Autumn 07)

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

membership of the eu 2
Joint lowest in EU27 (with Cyprus)

Spring 07: 44% UK “benefited”

Membership of the EU (2)

Q) Taking everything into account, would you say that (COUNTRY) has on balance benefited or not from being a member of the European Union?

EU27 UK

Benefited 58% 37%

Not benefited 29% 47%

Don’t know 13% 16%

(EUROBAROMETER, Autumn 07)

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

trust
Trust

Q) For each of the following institutions, please tell me if you tend to trust it or tend not to trust it.

EU27 UK

European Parliament 55% 25%

European Commission 50% 22%

European Union 48% 25%

National Parliament 35% 34%

National Government 34% 30%

(EUROBAROMETER, Autumn 07)

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

influence
Influence

Q) Please tell me for each statement, whether you tend to agree or tend to disagree….

% Tend to agree

EU27 UK

(OUR COUNTRY’s) voice counts in the EU 61% 47%

My voice counts in the EU 30% 17%

(EUROBAROMETER, Autumn 07)

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

people s concerns
Q) What do you think are the two most important issues facing (COUNTRY) at the moment?People’s Concerns

EU27 UK

Unemployment

Rising prices / inflation

Crime

Healthcare system

Economic situation

Immigration

Pensions

Terrorism

Education system

Taxation

Housing

Protecting environment

Energy related issues

Defence/foreign affairs

(EUROBAROMETER, Autumn 07)

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

national government or jointly with eu
Q For each of the following areas, do you think that the decisions should be made by the (NATIONAL) Government, or made jointly within the European Union?National Government or Jointly with EU?

% Jointly within EU

% Nat Government

Education

Taxation

Pensions

Economy

Unemployment

Health and social welfare

Transport

Fighting inflation

Fighting crime

Agriculture & fisheries

Defence & Foreign Affairs

Immigration

Consumer Protection

Competition

Energy

Support for regions facing economic difficulty

Science and technological research

Environment

Fighting terrorism

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

6

5

Base: 2,362 TT adults, March - April 2008

eu priorities
Q) European integration has been focusing on various issues in the last three years. In your opinion, which aspects should be emphasised by the European institutions in the coming years to strengthen the European Union in the future?EU Priorities

EU27 UK

The fight against crime

Immigration issues

Environment issues

Energy issues

Social issues

Solidarity with poorer regions

European foreign policy

The Internal market

European defence policy

Scientific research

European education policy

Cultural policy

(EUROBAROMETER, Autumn 07)

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

analysis

Analysis

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

analysis priorities
Analysis: Priorities
  • UK public has clear set of social policy priorities: crime, immigration, terrorism, and so on
  • These are very different from most of Europe: economy, employment, and so on (though growing economic uncertainty in the UK may be closing this gap)
  • UK public priorities also don’t match those of the UK Government: Single Market, UK’s greatest ‘win’, only priority of 5% of the public
  • But UK public is open to greater EU role in its priority areas: notably crime, terrorism, immigration, and environment
  • UK public keener on co-operation in most of these areas than Government (terrorism, immigration)

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

analysis trust
Analysis: Trust
  • UK public has low levels of trust in EU, even allowing for general distrust of government and politics in UK and worldwide
  • Low levels of trust usually associated with lack of understanding or familiarity
  • But research also suggests that views on EU have firmed up
  • So engagement with public is difficult: they don’t feel they understand EU, but do have firm views about it; and so are not that open to new information or persuasion

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

conclusions
Conclusions
  • The research suggests that:
    • The public is mistrustful about the EU and direct ‘rebuttal’ tends to miss the point – fears about curly cucumbers are a symptom, not a cause, of mistrust
    • More productive approach would be to add to people’s knowledge, not challenge their preconceptions
    • In any case, the public is open to EU action in particular areas
    • So EU could engage more by changing the terrain of discussion: away from the single market and into environment, crime, consumers, etc
    • But a factual approach alone would not work; the EU would have to show it was on the side of ordinary people in the UK, as it to some extent it did in the 1980s/1990s
    • It also needs to challenge the perception of remoteness: for example, instead of shuttling from Brussels to Strasbourg, the Parliament could come to London or Birmingham

Woodnewton Associates +44 207 837 0048

www.woodnewton.eu

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