Germans worried about effects of EU expansion

5th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

5 May 2006, BRUSSELS - European Union citizens have criticized the EU for not doing enough to curb unemployment which they see as the bloc's single most crucial issue, a European Commission survey said Friday, with Germans especially fearing that EU expansion will worsen problems on their national job market.

5 May 2006

BRUSSELS - European Union citizens have criticized the EU for not doing enough to curb unemployment which they see as the bloc's single most crucial issue, a European Commission survey said Friday, with Germans especially fearing that EU expansion will worsen problems on their national job market.

The Eurobarometer survey of 24,750 EU citizens (15 years and over), showed that the union is seen as performing poorly in the fight against unemployment and in the protection of social rights and economic growth.

A total of 47 per cent of EU citizens regard globalization as a threat to their national employment situation while 37 per cent consider it a good opportunity for business in their country.

People in the bloc's ten new member states and Scandinavians are most upbeat about the consequences of globalization. The majority of French, Greeks and Belgians are most worried about the phenomenon.

Although fears of globalization are associated with competition from low labour cost countries, some 55 per cent of Europeans consider the bloc's expansion as positive, saying that it improves the EU's influence in the world.

At the same time, some 63 per cent of EU citizens fear that taking in more countries will worsen problems on their national job markets, with Germans, Austrians, French and Greeks most worried about it.

Comparable living standards, the introduction of the euro in all member states and a common constitution are considered the key elements for the EU's future, the study found. A European welfare system could most strengthen their feeling of being a European, citizens added.

Six in ten Europeans favour a harmonization of the bloc's welfare systems, mainly in central and eastern European countries such as Poland (86 per cent), Latvia (82 per cent) and Hungary (81 per cent).

Almost one in two Europeans consider their country's membership in the EU as something positive. Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Ireland feature as the greatest EU optimists, the survey revealed.

Support for EU membership dropped most in Finland, Britain, Austria and Latvia. Also French and Dutch voters increasingly feel their country has not benefited from being a member of the 25-nation bloc.

Peace among all member states and the single market are regarded to be the most positive achievements of European unification, the survey found.

"The EU is expected to harness globalisation, bring solutions in terms of peace, democracy, living standards as well as research, innovation and economic performance," EU communication commissioner Margot Wallstroem said in a statement.

"This should be the foundation of the EU policy agenda, which will help reinvent and renew the EU ahead of its 50th anniversary," she added.

More than half of interviewees said the 25-nation bloc is democratic, modern and protective, but at the same time criticized the EU for being technocratic and inefficient.

DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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