ZEIT ONLINE Survey: A United States of Europe? Germans are divided
A survey by ZEIT ONLINE has found that Britons are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of a federal European superstate. But the picture is more mixed in Germany and France, where roughly a third of those asked support closer EU integration.
Some 35 percent of Germans consider creating a United States of Europe a good idea while 43 percent reject it. That is the result of a representative survey carried out by international market research firm YouGov for ZEIT ONLINE.
Forming a federal EU superstate was recently backed by German Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel. The minister urged closer coordination and integration in Europe, arguing that the member states of the European Union would only manage to be globally competitive if they cooperated more strongly on important economic policy questions. “My goal is the United States of Europe – based on the model of the federal states of Switzerland, Germany or the US,” von der Leyen told the magazine.
YouGov polled citizens in Britain and France on their reactions to her proposal. The result was particularly striking in Britain, where 64 percent of those surveyed there rejected the model of a United States of Europe. However, people in France were much more open to the idea – 44 percent said they could imagine a European superstate. Another 35 percent rejected it.
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Respondents in the three countries however agreed on one thing: in the case of an eventual federal union, finance, tax and economic policy should remain in the hands of individual member states. They rejected the idea of giving up those powers to a centralized European government.
In Germany, almost half the participants want to hold on to national independence in terms of finance, tax and economic policy. In Britain, the number is around 80 percent.
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In France, more than half of those surveyed said they want to keep those responsibilities with their national government. The French don’t want to give too much power to Europe even though there are more proponents than opponents among them of the idea of a United States of Europe.
Ursula von der Leyen’s proposal is highly controversial among German politicians. In particular, the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU), is strongly against further political integration in Europe.
The CDU’s parliamentary group leader Volker Kauder spoke in favor of a “close and intensive cooperation of the national states in the eurozone,” but he strongly ruled out the idea of a European federation of states. In mid-August, Chancellor Merkel proposed a “European economic government” during talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In recent days, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has also stressed the need for a common financial policy in Europe.
Translation: Sonia Phalnikar
This survey was carried out in cooperation with market research and polling institute YouGov. It’s based on online interviews with participants of the YouGov panel that has 2.5 million members worldwide. The institute’s election forecasts are regularly considered among the most precise in Germany, as well as in Britain and in the USA. For the current survey, YouGov polled 1,054 people in Germany, 2,013 in Britain and 1,008 in France at the end of August.