EU survey found Europeans fear war between member states

European Union facing internal 'battle' over vaccines says MEP

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Recent years in the EU have been chaotic after the UK voted to leave the bloc and a pandemic plunged the world’s economy into free-fall. Disputes over economic policy have rumbled on for years inside the EU, as northern European countries consistently argue for conservative spending plans to the frustration of southern countries such as Italy and Spain. While economic splits in the bloc have been well documented, a study found a surprising number of Europeans feared two EU member states could go to war with each other. The survey, conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and YouGov in 2019 had more than 60,000 respondents across 14 EU member states.

It asked European voters for their views on a number of issues relating to the future of the EU.

Austrians were most likely to believe a European war was possible, with 38 percent saying it could happen within 10 years, followed by 35 percent of French respondents and 31 percent of Romanians.

This fear was particularly high among younger Europeans – for example 46 percent of the youngest respondents in France held this view.

The report highlighted that this view was common among those supportive of far-right parties.

This included Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, the Freedom Party of Austria, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, Jobbik in Hungary, and Golden Dawn in Greece.

The study also stated that many who opposed these parties still thought a European war was possible within 10 years.

A majority of Europeans also believed that the EU could fall apart within 20 years, even though most also backed the European project.

In every country except Spain, the majority of voters believed the EU will fall apart within the next 10 to 20 years.

In startling statistics for the EU, 58 percent of respondents in France said it was realistic that the bloc would collapse within two decades.

Italian and Polish voters were almost as pessimistic, with 57 percent in both countries giving the same verdict – 40 percent of Spaniards polled also said the same.

Many have warned that the EU’s existence could be threatened by the coronavirus pandemic, including former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who resigned in January due to the Covid chaos.

Mr Conte warned in April last year that the risk of the EU collapsing over the coronavirus crisis “is real” and the pandemic could pose “a big challenge to the existence of Europe”.

He added: “If our response isn’t strong and unified, if Europe fails to come up with a monetary and financial policy adequate for the biggest challenge since World War 2, for sure not only Italians but European citizens will be deeply disappointed.”

His statement was even echoed by former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said “the European spirit is in danger”.

Mr Conte’s comments came as Italy received little support in the form of financial aid or protective equipment when the initial Covid-19 outbreak led to chaos in the northern region of Lombardy.

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Historian David Marsh told last year that the pandemic could also lead to increased euroscepticism.

He said: “It will make it more difficult to rein in euroscepticism, which is why the Germans don’t really want to go down that route.

“The Germans are in quite a difficult position at the moment because on the one hand the monetary union has been hugely beneficial to Germany, on the other hand it isn’t popular to give away money to states who some feel haven’t been working hard enough.

“That’s why the Merkel governments have always been happy that the European Central Bank does all of the heavy lifting.

“If there was to be a transfer of assets or wealth through the front door from the north to the south, it would be politically very sensitive.

“This is why the German government on the whole has preferred to operate in rather stealthy fashion.

“The AfD (Alternative for Germany party) would no doubt profit on an upsurge in euroscepticism were that to happen, so it’s a really difficult political and economic balancing act.”

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