Britons unhappy with EU club, in contrast to positive Ireland

BRITAIN has not benefited from European Union membership, according to nearly half the population, a new survey indicated yesterday.

The latest “Eurobarometer” poll showed 49% denying any advantage in membership and only 36% seeing benefits.

The figures contrast starkly with Ireland where, despite hostile reactions to the Lisbon Treaty, 81% said the country had benefited from being in the EU, and only 10% disagreed.

That makes Ireland the most positive of all EU countries about being in the club, while Britain ranks below all but Hungary and Latvia, where 52% and 55% respectively said their countries had not benefited.

Answering a separate question, 30% of Britons said EU membership was “a good thing”, 30% said it was a “bad thing” 34% said it was neither one thing nor the other and 6% didn’t know. The figures reflect a switch of 2% from “bad” to “good”, but that still leaves Britain as the most disenchanted country by far.

In Ireland, 72% said membership was good, 8% said it was bad, 14% sat on the fence and 6% didn’t know.

On average, 53% of EU citizens described membership as good, with only 15% describing it as bad. But 28% were indifferent and 4% didn’t know.

The survey found a majority across the EU believed unemployment was the most important issue for their country, followed by the economy and inflation.

The poll involved more than 30,000 people in 27 countries interviewed between October 3 and November 18 this year.

THE FIGURES

PROPORTION of those claiming, “taking everything into account”, their country has NOT benefited from EU membership:

* Latvia – 55%

* Hungary 52%

* UK 49%

* Austria 44%

* Denmark 38%

* France 35%

* Sweden 34%

* Finland 33%

* Germany 32%

* Italy 32%

* Czech Republic 32%

* Slovenia 31%

* Belgium 29%

* Malta 29%

* Bulgaria 28%

* Greece 25%

* Cyprus 23%

* Spain 22%

* Estonia 22%

* Portugal 21%

* Lithuania 20%

* Netherlands 20%

* Romania 19%

* Luxembourg 17%

* Poland 16%

* Slovakia 14%

* Ireland 10%.


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