Europeans worry about job market, the EU’s course

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Only 39 percent of Europeans think the European Union is going in the right direction and nearly half are concerned that the increasingly global economy is a threat to their jobs, a new EU study showed on Friday. The Eurobarometer survey of almost 25,000 people in the EU’s 25 countries also showed 49 percent of respondents thought the EU was a good thing, slightly down from 50 percent at the end of last year. The survey showed 27 percent of Europeans thought the EU was going in the wrong direction; 23 percent thought its direction was neither right nor wrong and the rest said they did not know. The survey did not provide comparative figures. The French and the Greeks were the most worried about globalization with 72 percent of respondents concerned about the impact on employment of the growing cross-border nature of the world economy. Overall, 47 percent of Europeans were worried about the impact of globalization on jobs. Worries about employment have raised concerns among many Europeans about further enlargement to include more countries, chiefly Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and the Balkans. Such concerns helped persuade voters in France and the Netherlands to reject an EU constitution last year, politicians and European Commission leaders have said. The new Eurobarometer poll showed 55 percent of Europeans saw enlargement as positive but 63 percent said it will increase problems in the job market, a figure that rises to 80 percent in Germany and 72 percent in France. In France, only 42 percent of people see enlargement on the whole as good, the second lowest after Austria’s 40 percent. Seven of the 10 most enthusiastic countries about the enlargement process are among the 10 new member states of the EU who joined in 2004, most of them former communist countries.