UK Markets closed

Brexit sparks surge in support for EU across continent

Luke James
Brussels correspondent
A pro-EU protest in Berlin (Getty)

Support for the EU has risen to its highest level for a decade across the continent – and Brussels chiefs think they’ve got Brexit to thank.

60 per cent of people think EU membership is a good thing, according to the results of a survey of 27,000 people carried out last month across the bloc’s 28-member states.

That’s the highest level of support for the EU found across the continent by the annual poll since 2007 – although the number of UK voters who agree is substantially lower at 47 per cent.

“The Brexit vote of June 2016 certainly played a part in this revived European positivity,” according to the European Parliament’s report on the survey.

It suggested the UK referendum acted as a “wake-up call” to voters over the future of the EU.

Despite that, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani warned the EU could still be sleepwalking towards a collapse.

His comments came at an event to mark the one year countdown to the European elections, in which Eurosceptic parties are expected to increase their share of the vote.

Antonio Tajani launches the countdown to the next European elections (European Parliament)

Mr Tajani said: “Voters need to know what is at stake. What they stand to lose if we reject our current unique model of co-operation.

“Brexit provides a glimpse of such a future and will undoubtedly be the backdrop to next year’s elections.”

The EU will be most concerned about Italy, where a new Eurosceptic government is set to take power.

Today’s results reveal that there are fewer people in Italy than the UK who believe EU membership has been beneficial to their country.

44 per cent of Italian voters say the EU has been beneficial, compared with 53 per cent in the UK.

Italy is also among five countries where fewer voters than the UK believe the EU is a good thing. The others are Austria, Greece, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Tajani said he understood the anger in his home country of Italy, saying solidarity from the EU over the refugee crisis has been “too late.”

But he said: “When populists get into power they’re not capable of transforming the things they’re against into anything they’re for.

“The risk is they’ll only destroy and damage things.”