Europeans positive towards Germany, survey finds


GERMANY HAS faced robust criticism of its austerity-first approach to the euro zone crisis, but a new survey suggests anti-German sentiment in Europe is not reflected by public opinion.

The Pew Research Centre’s annual Global Attitudes survey of 9,108 people in eight EU countries plus the US places Germany as the most respected EU country with chancellor Angela Merkel the most respected European leader.

Favourable opinion towards Germany ranges from 84 per cent in France to 67 per cent in Italy, with Britain, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic in between. The exception is Greece, where just one in five Greeks are positive and 78 per cent are negative.

Despite this, 87 per cent of Greeks blame their own government for their crisis.

None of its neighbours hold a positive view of Greece: the only European people surveyed who think Greeks are hard-working are the Greeks themselves.

On European integration, just a third of those surveyed believe the project has strengthened their country’s economy, with a majority in almost all countries thinking the opposite.

Only in Germany do a majority (59 per cent) still keep the faith. Meanwhile, majorities believing the EU has weakened their country’s economy range from Greece (70 per cent) to France (63 per cent), as well as Italy and Britain (both 61 per cent).

Negative sentiment towards the EU is up, with noticeable rises in the Czech Republic and Spain. A positive view of the EU is held by two-thirds of Germans but only half of French and Spaniards.

The European Central Bank gets a drubbing from euro zone members with negative views held by 80 per cent of Greeks, two-thirds of Spaniards and one in two French and Germans. No euro countries surveyed saw the single currency as good for them, but none showed a majority backing an exit.

Opinion is evenly divided on austerity and stimulus: a median of 37 per cent think cuts have not gone far enough, while another 37 per cent believe cuts have gone too far. Just a quarter feel the cuts have been well measured.

Of the eight EU countries surveyed, all except Italy opposed handing over further budget control to EU institutions. Even in Germany, the driving force behind the fiscal treaty, some 56 per cent of Germans oppose the move.