As the European Union (EU) continues to expand and deepen its integration process, some factions advocate for their respective countries’ withdrawal from the EU, or at the very least, resist further integration. Euroscepticism, which comes in numerous forms, has become firmly established and persistent throughout the EU. Multiple studies reveal that in the period of 2015-2016, approximately 32% of EU citizens exhibited trust in the EU as an institution, whereas about 55% demonstrated distrust (with 13% indicating “don’t know”). The highest levels of EU distrust were observed in Greece (81%), Cyprus (72%), Austria (65%), France (65%), the United Kingdom (UK), and the Czech Republic (both 63%). Though this data may seem outdated, more recent reports from 2021-2022 indicate a continued decline in trust towards EU institutions. Germany, a significant EU player, is the only country where less than half (39%) of centre-right respondents hold a positive view of the EU, while a larger proportion (57%) harbours negative sentiments. This finding aligns with prior results from the European Council on Foreign Relations, which illustrate Germans’ increasingly critical view of the EU, a turn towards Euroscepticism, and a pervasive belief that “the EU’s political system is broken”, especially in response to its handling of the pandemic. It is noteworthy that the standard Eurobarometer surveys from 2022 suggest that almost half of all Europeans claim they trust the EU, with 49% of respondents inclined to trust EU institutions. Despite this figure being shy of the majority, it does indicate a considerable amount of trust among Europeans.
To get to the heart of these trends, JURIST’s Senior Europe Correspondent Anna Balabina spoke with Jochen Richter, former director of the European Parliament, founder of JMR Interconnect, and a lecturer at the universities of Luxembourg and Düsseldorf.