|Plenty for Barroso to contemplate|
- Trust in the EU has, on average, reached an all-time low, now standing at 31% - a 3% decrease since autumn 2011. At the same time, the average level of trust in national governments and parliaments has increased, reaching 28% for both;
- Country-by-country results are equally worrying. Both in Greece and Spain, for instance, the level of trust in the respective governments has decreased since last autumn, and now stands at only 6% (down 2%) in Greece and 13% (down 3%) in Spain. Reflecting that these two countries still associate the EU with positives such as democracy - marking a break from recent authoritarian pasts - people still tend to trust the EU more than their national governments (hardly an achievement given the low levels). However, here's the worrying part if you sit in Brussels. In both countries, trust in the EU has dropped like a stone - and fallen to a much greater extent than trust in national governments. Only 19% of Greeks now trust the EU - down a full 10% in less than a year, while 21% of Spaniards, down 9%, say they "tend to trust" the EU;
- This suggests that trust in the EU as a counter-balance to unpredictable national politics is starting to diminish. As we've argued repeatedly, a key deciding factor for the future of the euro will be if and when the tipping point occurs: when the Mediterranean countries start to associate the EU and/or the euro with outright pain and erosion of national self-determination.
- The traditional Eurobarometer question about whether a country has benefited or not from EU membership seems to be missing in the latest survey. It's only asked once a year (presumably to avoid too many bruised egos in Brussels) and so we hope that it will re-appear in the autumn 2012 edition.
- Also interestingly, trust in the German government received a boost, increasing by 7% from the previous Eurobarometer. In the meantime, the number of Germans who "tend to trust" the EU remained unchanged at 30%, while the number of those who "tend not to trust" the EU rose to 61% - 4% higher than in autumn 2011;
- The average share of Europeans who think that the EU is "best able" to tackle the current economic crisis has decreased to 21%, down 23%, as big a share that think national governments are better placed. This question is pretty pointless though as it leaves what "taking effective action" (which is the exact formulation) completely open to interpretation. For example, if eurobonds are implied then you lose the Germans, while if EU-imposed austerity is implied you lose the Greeks.