EU disintegration is a “realistic possibility” in the next 10 to 20 years, according to a majority of voters. European voters even fear that a war could break out between EU member states in the coming decades. The shock declaration follows the release of internal European Parliament research that claimed support for the EU was recorded at record highs.
According to the survey, commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, voters in France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Greece, The Netherlands and the Czech Republic believe next week’s European elections could be the last.
The research, conducted by YouGov, with 46,000 interviews across 14 countries, which make up 80 percent of European Parliament seats, show only Sweden (44 percent), Denmark (41 percent) and Spain (40 percent) as not having a majority fearful for the EU’s future.
The worrying results, released seven days ahead of the European elections, shows Slovakia (66 percent), France (58 percent) and Romania (58 percent) as the most concerned EU member states.
They were closely followed by Poland, Italy and Greece, where populist, anti-EU parties are flourishing ahead of next week’s vote.
As many of a third of voters in France and Poland believe that war between EU countries could breakout.
Around 46 percent of supporters for Marine Le Pen’s eurosceptic National Rally movement and 41 percent of Alternative for Germany hold this view.
The fear of European conflicts is most prominent in young voters, aged between 18 and 34, who believe a war could breakout within a decade.
Voters in France (40 percent), the Netherlands (47 percent), Germany (34 percent), Poland (43 percent) and Spain (32 percent) are most worried about a potential conflict.
Across Europe, three quarters of voters feel that politics is broken at national or EU levels, or both.
In France, which has been blighted by the anti-government ‘Yellow Vest’ movement, only 15 percent of voters think the political system operates well.
Concerns are also driven by the EU’s financial health – housing, unemployment and living costs all major factors in the Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Romania.
Voters fear that the EU’s collapse would impact free trade, travel, live and work freely, defence and security cooperation and being able to stand up to the US and China.
Free trade (38 percent) is the biggest loss, closely followed by free movement (37 percent), in the event of the EU’s demise, according to voters.
Only 8 percent of participants do not think they would lose much if the EU was to collapse.
Mark Leonard, director of the ECFR think tank, said: “here are seven days to resolve the paradox at the heart of the European project. Support for EU membership is at the highest level since 1983 – and yet a majority of voters fear the EU might collapse.
“The challenge for pro-Europeans is to use this fear of loss to mobilise their silent majority and ensure that it is not just the anti-system parties who get their say on May 26.
“Pro-Europeans need to offer voters bold ideas for change that emotionally resonate and make the silent majority feel it is worth turning out at the end of May.
“It is not yet too late – with a volatile European electorate, there are up to 97 million voters who could still be persuaded to vote for different parties.”
Susi Dennison, a senior policy fellow at ECFR, added: “The challenge now is for pro-European parties to reconnect with voters who retain a belief that the European project is a good thing but feel that the system is broken, showing them that voting is a worthwhile thing to do, with the issues they care about for the future in mind.”
Fieldwork was undertaken between January 23 and February 25, 2019, and from March 4 to 24, 2019.