Another Blow To The EU — Its Population Is Divided

The bureaucracy that is the European Union just received another blow, this time from its residents.

The population of the 27-country bloc are hugely divided over some of the key aspects of EU membership, a recent report by researchers at Oxford University shows.

The news comes in the wake of the UK leaving the bloc last year and the EU’s disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year or so. Such dissatisfaction may lead more countries to want to break away from the union, likely harming the broader European economy.

Few See Freedom of Movement As Benefit to Them

On the surface, the report, titled “Europe Today and Tomorrow: What Europeans Want,” shows that surveyed residents of the member states want the EU to work closer together and be more integrated. However, sharp lines divide the population on key matters. The report states the point as follows:

  • “There is also clear dissatisfaction with the EU’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and a plurality of respondents agree that freedom of movement has brought more costs than benefits for their country.”

More people agreed (37%) with the statement “free of movement has had more costs than benefits for my country,” than disagreed (32%,) the report states.

“The mood in Europe is in fact more mixed with regards to whether free movement has been entirely a good thing at the country level,” the report states.

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In richer countries such as France and Germany the survey respondents were even more likely to think the cost of freedom of movement outweighed the benefits. For instance the figure was 45% in France and 40% in Germany.

Freedom of movement is a vital part of the treaty that binds the EU together and is part of a (largely unfulfilled) post-WW2 goal of creating a United States of Europe. And without freedom of movement the EU dream will remain just that, a dream.

COVID Torpedoed the Eurocrats

It gets worse.

Despite the EU’s massive bureaucratic infrastructure it has seemed helpless to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. At least that’s the message that a huge chunk of the population is giving to the world.

A mere one-in-20 (5%) of Europeans thought the vaccine procurement/rollout got dealt with “very well,” whereas almost half (45%) through the government dealt with it “badly” or “very badly.”

That fits with the data which shows EU countries are far behind either the U.S. or UK, in rolling out the vaccine.

The Possible Impact on the Economy

So what? The bad news for investors is that dissatisfaction of the population in democratic countries tends to be resolved in two ways. Either the institutions change their ways to satisfy the people, or the the popele make their voice heard at the polls, as happened in the UK.

The problem is that the EU has been unable to reform itself. Eurocrats (European bureaucrats) don’t seem able to understand that what works in Frankfurt likely won’t work in Milan, and vice versa. In large part that’s what sparked the Brexit movement with the EU rules not truly working within Uk culture.

Suppose these dissatisfactions in the current EU member states are not dealt with in a way that appeases the European population, especially in countries such as France and Germany. In that case, we could see more exit movements from the bloc with a resulting decline in the economic power of the bloc and probably more trade restrictions. In other words, expect even slower economic growth from the EU if these problems are not resolved in short order. The impact will then no doubt be felt in European stocks such as those in the Stoxx Europe 600 index.

Published at Mon, 31 May 2021 10:01:42 +0000

Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonconstable/2021/05/31/another-blow-to-the-eu—its-population-is-divided/

By Editor