Who wants the Euro?

January 24, 2016

A recent Gallup International opinion poll of 15 countries of the European Union (taken between November 30 and December 3, 2015 polling 14,500 people) reveals significant changes in the level of support or scepticism about the single currency.

The poll shows that in the EU countries which are not members of the eurozone the image of the Euro is strongly degraded and that in two countries of the eurozone, Italy and Greece, a majority of the people (with an opinion on the topic) are now in favour of leaving the Euro.

Opinions against the Euro seem to be very sharp in the UK, in Sweden, but also in Denmark and in Bulgaria. But it also appears that in two countries of the eurozone, Greece and Italy, the preference for the national currency is winning the day. In the case of Greece, this is an important turn-around in relation to last Summer. Greeks were, until recently, strongly in favour of the Euro, which probably explains why Syriza felt it did not have the political support to risk Grexit. The shift in opinion against the single currency in Greece may well have big political implications in the next couple of years as the inevitable failure of the Troika program unfolds.

The shift of opinion in Italy is interesting. Italy is one of the historic core and founding countries of the EU and of the eurozone. The preference for the national currency is now clearly very strong, which is unsurprising given Italy’s dire economic situation. The Italian economy has not grown at all in the fifteen plus years since the introduction of the single currency and its debt and unemployment levels are very high. Moreover, in Italy, at least two parties (Beppe Grillo’s M5S and the Northern League) have publicly and repeatedly expressed strong doubts about Italy staying in the Eurozone. Its also notable that in the Netherlands (another core EU country) support for Euro only has a very slight majority. There is also a significant debate in the Netherlands about the wisdom of remaining in the single currency.

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