The French feel more European than they did one year ago, and their confidence in the European Union has grown. But trust in local institutions and politicians remains far higher. EURACTIV France reports.
France may not be an axis of Europhilia, but the image of the European Union in the eyes of the French people has slightly improved since this time last year, according to a new study.
Despite the many crises that shook the bloc throughout 2015, the latest annual political confidence barometer published by Cevipof and Opinion Way observed an improvement in French public opinion towards the European Union,
In 2016, 38% of respondents to the survey said they had confidence in the EU; a score 1 point higher than in 2015.
French citizens’ confidence in the European institutions reached a peak of 44% in a survey carried out shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in February 2015.
While trust in the EU is on the up, the French still have far more confidence in their local institutions and politicians. 65% of those questioned said they had confidence in their city council and 55% in their regional and departmental councils. The French Senate and National Assembly polled 44% and 41% respectively.
Trust on the rise
But the European Union scored higher than both the French government and Presidency, as well as other international institutions like the G20 or the World Trade Organisation.
MEPs also benefited from this rising tide of confidence, gaining three points to poll 30%. But even so, the French members of the European Parliament are at the bottom of the political pack when it comes to their citizens’ confidence.
Of all the elected representatives, MEPs are the least trusted in France, behind members of parliament, senators, mayors, etc. Only the president of the republic came out less popular, with just 29%.
Another factor measured in the Cevipof and Opinion Way study was the perceived benefit to France of its European Union membership.
According to the study, 41% of French people see the country’s EU membership positively; one point down on last year. 25% believe the EU is harmful to France, and 33% are undecided.
Despite this slight decline in support for the EU, feelings of European citizenship increased. While 30% of respondents said they felt French, and only French – an unchanged figure from last year – the number of French citizens that feel both French and European rose two points to 33%.
Finally, the number of respondents saying they felt more French than European fell three points to 35%.