Into the future with Europe: Most Germans rate EU membership positively
Photo: Nicolas Landemard / Le Pictorium / imago images
A clear majority of Germans see the country's EU membership as positive.
Around two thirds of the population believe that being in the EU is predominantly beneficial.
On the other hand, almost a third consider the disadvantages to be more important.
This is the result of a representative survey on Germany's self-image in the European Union.
The data was collected by the market research institute Civey on behalf of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which is close to the Greens, and the Berlin think tank "Das Progressive Zentrum" as part of a research project that has been running since 2019.
According to the information, the survey is representative for people in Germany aged 18 and over.
The positive attitude towards the EU is evident across different population groups, regardless of characteristics such as age, gender, education, occupational groups or the region in which one lives.
In the Corona crisis, the view has become more critical.
However, a fundamental change in mood cannot be discerned.
(Read more about the Civey method
(Read more about the Civey method
According to the study, attitudes differ significantly when one takes party preference into account: eight out of ten AfD supporters see more disadvantages than advantages in Germany's EU membership.
In the camps of the Greens, SPD, Left, CDU / CSU and FDP, on the other hand, a majority of EU membership is positive.
This result corresponds with the party programs.
The AfD calls for Germany to leave the EU.
"After the criticism of the vaccine procurement, the EU must strengthen confidence in its ability to act"
There is a clear change compared to previous years with the question of whether Germany can achieve its political goals with the EU rather than without it.
60 percent still affirm this - compared to the 2020 study, however, this is a decrease of around seven percentage points, compared to 2019 the minus is as much as 17 percentage points.
For the makers of the study, one possible explanation is that many people were disappointed with the procurement of corona vaccine from the EU.
"After the criticism of vaccine procurement, the EU must strengthen confidence in its ability to act," says Johannes Hillje, co-author of the study and Policy Fellow at the Progressive Center.
The data show only minor changes when it comes to the question of the economic benefits of the EU.
Disagreement over shared debts
The proportion of people who think that Germany has so far acted cooperatively with other EU countries has increased.
63 percent now answered in the affirmative - an increase compared to 2019 (50 percent) and 2020 (55 percent).
In addition, unlike in 2020, a good half (53 percent) were of the opinion that the country was "rather active" on the European stage.
The issue of debt is controversial.
Last year, the heads of state and government of the EU decided on a corona reconstruction fund, in which, unlike in the financial crisis, the countries not only receive loans but also grants.
For the first time in its history the EU is jointly taking on debt.
The federal government had always refused this before.
In the study, 47 percent of citizens spoke out against shared debts, 45 percent in favor.
There is a dividing line here according to political preference: supporters of the Greens, SPD and Left support a majority of joint borrowing, while a majority in the camps of the CDU / CSU, FDP and AfD reject it.
A narrow majority considers Germany's financial contribution to the EU to be too high (52 percent).
In 2020 this group was still in the minority (47 percent).
Asylum policy as a top priority
The other EU member states will have to get used to a new German Chancellor from autumn onwards.
Angela Merkel is no longer running in the federal election.
According to the study, the population has specific expectations of the future federal government's European policy.
Almost half (46 percent) are of the opinion that a common asylum policy at international level should be one of the priorities of the future federal government. The enforcement of the rule of law (40 percent), minimum social standards in the EU (37 percent) and a common climate policy (36 percent) were also mentioned frequently. In contrast, comparatively few people consider a European army or health union to be a priority.
There is great agreement among the population on the question of whether the European Council should make more decisions by majority instead of unanimity in the future. Over 80 percent of Germans are in favor. Annalena Baerbock, Olaf Scholz and Armin Laschet have already announced at a chancellor's triumph on Europe that they want to work for an end to the principle of unanimity.