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Matthew Goodwin @GoodwinMJ
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A little thread on what's happening in Europe /
So we have just had some new data on what's on the minds of people in Europe
As I have pointed out previously, when you ask people about the challenges that are facing Europe today there are a few new issues that are dominating ....

This is not the only data. We also know from elsewhere that there are now lots of voters who feel anxious about the refugee crisis that emerged in 2015
Some recent work by Pew found that on average 59% in Europe thought that the crisis would increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country
Note the concern is often strongest in states with low numbers of refugees, though even in those states on the 'frontline' like Germany and Sweden you're looking at 57-61% voicing anxiety
We also know that general perceptions of threat are fairly widespread - that across Europe often large majorities feel that refugees from states like Iraq or Syria pose a 'major threat' to their nation
These headlines hide some big differences among different groups
People who already held negative opinions of minorities were far more likely to view refugees as a threat
Though even among those with positive views there are significant concerns
We also know that a very large number of people in Europe are very unhappy with how the European Union has been dealing with the refugee crisis
I've argued before that a major risk for the EU is that if it cannot start to demonstrate basic competence on this issue then anti-EU sentiment will start to draw strength from these 'identity' worries alongside existing ones over economic inequality and a democratic deficit
That is probably already happening (e.g. we know that large numbers of Brits before voting for Brexit felt that only by leaving the EU could they (a) lower immigration and (b) reduce the risk of terrorism)
Anyway, back to the new data that has just come out ...
The European Commission has been tracking what people are thinking across Europe for the past few decades and we have just got data from early 2018
What do people think are the top issues facing the EU right now?
Of the 28 EU member states, immigration is the top issue in 21
In the 7 states where immigration is not top, terrorism is
The idea that you hear often in Brussels - that it was only the Brits who worried about borders and migration- no longer applies
Notably higher than average levels of concern appear in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Hungary and Malta
This partly reflects how much of the opposition to what you might call "liberal Europe" is coming from Central and Eastern Europe - though Italy and Austria are now joining those states in how they think about these issues
At the national level (i.e. what important issues are facing your COUNTRY not the EU) it is a different story... kind of
At the national level it's more about unemployment and health though migration is third
But it's the top issue in Malta, Germany, Austria (as it was in 2017) but it is now also the top issue in Belgium too
Meanwhile, overall levels of trust in Europe's political institutions remain at rather low levels...
Only 42% across Europe trust the European Union
Only 34% trust their national government
Only 34% trust their national parliament
And here's how those levels of trust break down by country

Majorities distrust the EU in Austria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Italy, France, UK and Greece
The Lithuanians meanwhile are rocking out on the far left

I have no idea why - Lithuanians let me know!
The good news for the EU is that the number of people who feel that "their voice counts" is now up... the fourth successive increase and it's now at a new high!
At ... er .... 45%
That drops to 20% in Estonia, 24% in Greece, 27% in Italy ....

But the Danes and Germans are loving it....
People are feeling a little bit more optimistic about the future though
Today 58% in Europe are optimistic about the future of the EU (the highest since 2015) while 36% are pessimistic
But again there are some rather big variations
When it comes to the future of the EU the Irish are absolutely loving it!

The Greeks, Brits and French ... not so much
Another interesting trend - there's a nice uptick in economic optimism

The percentage of people who think the situation of their national economy is "good" has jumped by 29 points since 2009

We have a crossover point here
But check out some of these differences
90% of Germans say "national economy = good"

2% of Greeks say the same
This is a recurring challenge for the EU - how on earth do you bridge these stark differences in perceptions of economic performance (which are now being joined by stark differences in perceptions of who is doing what to help out in the refugee crisis)
Something else is interesting here too - for all those who argue that populism is all about economics and austerity...
Look over at the left at the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Austria...

All have nice and strong perceptions that the economy is doing good

Yet each of them are grappling with pretty major national populist revolts
This is also the first time since 2004 when positive views of the national economy outweigh negative views - an important moment for Europe
There is also a clear sense among people that the impact of the economic crisis on jobs has peaked and that things will now start to recover
This should be good news

But of course it also means big expectations...
Majorities in 14 states now think the impact of the crisis has peaked

The Dutch and Irish leading the way...

But the Brits look gloomy about the future. 53% "worst to come", which puts them ahead of the Greeks!
So, what do we take from all of this? I think there are three key points
1. It seems pretty clear that at the broad macro level people are generally becoming more optimistic about the economy, it seems that the darkest days of the crisis might be coming to a close (for now)
2. But while economics is retreating in the mind, culture is firmly at the forefront.

Borders, security, refugees, terrorism - at macro level this is the issue agenda for the EU. It has to start demonstrating competence & establishing unity among states with v different views
The (brilliant) thinker Ivan Krastev was right when he argued in 'After Europe' that the refugee crisis has the potential to tear the EU apart.

We are already seeing the political effects
-Merkel under immense pressure
-National populists enjoying peaks
-Rightward policy drift
3. Underneath the bonnet there are still massive variations from one member state to the next - their economic experiences, their levels of concern over the refugee crisis, their thoughts about what the EU should do next, their sense about what the future holds..
Solidarity in the EU is being tested like never before. It is not entirely clear what is going to happen next but we have some ideas in our forthcoming book (sorry, I had to!) Best wishes, Matt - /ends
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