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Greeks still skeptical of European Union, Pew survey finds

Crisis-hit Greeks remain deeply skeptical of many aspects of the European project despite signs of rebound in overall sentiment, an opinion poll carried out by the Pew Research Center and published on Monday has found.

Out of the 7,022 people surveyed in seven EU countries (France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom), voters in Greece were least likely to see the European Union in a favorable light, the poll found just a few days before Europeans head to the ballot boxes to elect their representatives in the European Parliament.

Overall sentiment toward the EU, however, appears to have rebounded from 2013 but slipped from the year before that, with Greek sentiment improving one percentage point from 33 to 34 percent in 2013-2014, but down by 3 percent from 37 in 2012. The average in the sentiment rating among the countries surveyed was 52 percent in 2014, compared with 46 percent the previous year and 60 percent in 2012.

Support for the euro remains strong as large majorities in Germany (72 percent), Greece (69 percent), Spain (68 percent) and France (64 percent) said they want to remain in the euro area, the American think-tank found.

Greeks, meanwhile, ranked at the top of the scale measuring whether citizens find the EU to be out of touch with their needs, intrusive and inefficient, according to 85, 86 and 67 percent of respondents in each respective category, compared to the corresponding seven-nation averages of 65, 63 and 57 percent.

However, 70 percent of Greeks said they believe the EU promotes peace and 59 percent said they see it as world power, though only 30 percent believe it promotes prosperity.

This skepticism in the EU's grasp of citizens' needs is also reflected in low marks give by Greeks to its institutions.

Just 17 percent of Greeks said they see the European Central Bank - one of its three international creditors - in a favorable light, compared with the seven-nation average of 30 percent. The European Commission, European Parliament and European Union are seen favorably by 22, 26 and 34 percent of Greek respondents respectively, compared with the corresponding averages of 34, 36 and 52 percent.

Europeans also despair about their personal interaction with the EU, Pew said, as majorities in all seven countries surveyed think their voice does not count in the EU, with the Italians (81 percent) and Greeks (80 percent) being particularly disheartened.

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday May 13, 2014 (13:23)  
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