Just Say Non To The New "Sick Man Of Europe" - Support For EU Plunges In France And Most European Countries

Tyler Durden's picture

In some surprising news, and quite contrary to what its record low bond yields would indicate (for a key reason for said artificial demand for French, see The Greater Fool) today the Pew Research center released results from a poll of 7646 EU citizens in March 2013, showing that the new sick man of Europe is Europe itself, or rather the great unification project itself: the European Union.

The sick man label – attributed originally to Russian Czar Nicholas I in his description of the Ottoman Empire in the mid-19th century – has more recently been applied at different times over the past decade and a half to Germany, Italy, Portugal, Greece and France. But this fascination with the crisis country of the moment has masked a broader phenomenon: the erosion of Europeans’ faith in the animating principles that have driven so much of what they have accomplished internally.


The European Union is the new sick man of Europe. The effort over the past half century to create a more united Europe is now the principal casualty of the euro crisis. The European project now stands in disrepute across much of Europe.

The bolded sections also confirm why the European oligarchic bureaucracy is increasingly authoritarian, and desperate to usurp all democratic principles and popular power, well aware that if left to the "demos", Europe - which is what the common person increasingly blames their economic troubles on - would not last one more day.

Perhaps most surprisingly, nowhere is this more evident than in France itself - the country where the idea of a European Union germinated in the first place - and where the decline in support for the EU has been the greatest in the past year, with just 22% responding affirmatively to the question whether 'economic integration strengthened the economy', down from 36% a year ago, and the biggest drop of all surveyed EU member states.

It only goes downhill from there for France.

No European country is becoming more dispirited and disillusioned faster than France. In just the past year, the public mood has soured dramatically across the board. The French are negative about the economy, with 91% saying it is doing badly, up 10 percentage points since 2012. They are negative about their leadership: 67% think President Francois Hollande is doing a lousy job handling the challenges posed by the economic crisis, a criticism of the president that is 24 points worse than that of his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. The French are also beginning to doubt their commitment to the European project, with 77% believing European economic integration has made things worse for France, an increase of 14 points since last year. And 58% now have a bad impression of the European Union as an institution, up 18 points from 2012.

So much for the European "core" - while Germany is doing better, or at least not as bad, French public mood is now on par with the PIIGS:

Even more dramatically, French attitudes have sharply diverged from German public opinion on a range of issues since the beginning of the euro crisis. Differences in opinion across the Rhine have long existed. But the French public mood is now looking less like that in Germany and more like that in the southern peripheral nations of Spain, Italy and Greece.


Positive assessment of the economy in France have fallen by more than half since before the crisis and is now comparable to that in the south. The French share similar worries about inflation and unemployment with the Spanish, the Italians and the Greeks at levels of concern not held by the Germans. Only the Greeks and Italians have less belief in the benefits of economic union than do the French. The French now have less faith in the European Union as an institution than do the Italians or the Spanish. And the French, like their southern European compatriots, have lost confidence in their elected leader.

In France it is so bad, that it's "optimism" (of 14%) is higher only than that of Greece, where youth unemployment just crossed above 60%:

European publics are generally only slightly more upbeat about their nation’s economic prospects over the next 12 months than they are about the current state of their economy. Just 11% of the French and 14% of the Greeks expect the economic situation in their country to improve. Optimism about the future of the economy is largely unchanged compared with sentiment held last year, although it has declined 11 points in France and 10 points in Britain.


A majority of the Greeks (64%) and the French (61%) and a plurality of the Italians (48%) and Spanish (47%) actually expect things to get worse. About half of Poles (51%), Germans (49%) and Czechs (47%) and four-in-ten British (40%) see economic conditions remaining the same over the next year. But in the Czech Republic and Britain, no change means continued economic stagnation. The Czech economy contracted by -1.3% in 2012 and Britain’s grew by an anemic 0.3%.


Since like everything else, the European experiment is also a zero sum game, Germany's gain is everyone else's loss:

Given the overall level of dissatisfaction across Europe, there is little difference in attitudes among demographic groups on their country’s direction, with some exceptions. Young German adults, those aged 18 to 29, and Germans with a college degree are more likely to be satisfied than people 50 years of age and older or the less educated. The same holds true for young people and the better educated in France, the Czech Republic and Britain.


The debilitating effect on the public psyche of the prolonged euro crisis is evident in the erosion of satisfaction in some but not all countries. Since 2007, before the euro crisis began, national contentment is down 46 percentage points in Spain, 13 points in Italy and 7 points in the Czech Republic. But in Germany (+24 points) and Poland (+7), people are feeling better about the state of their nation.



Only in Germany, where the economy grew a modest 0.7% in 2012, yet faster than the overall European Union average of -0.3%, does most (75%) of the population think the economy is doing well. This represents a significant improvement over sentiment in 2009, when only 28% saw economic conditions in a good light, despite the fact that the German economy was growing at 3.3% at the time.

Whereas Merkel still has the adoration of the Germans, every other European leader is equally loathed anywhere one goes in Europe:

Europeans are losing faith in the capacity of their own national leaders to cope with the economy’s woes. In most countries surveyed, fewer people today than a year ago think their national executive is doing a good job dealing with the euro crisis. This includes just 25% of the public in Italy, where the sitting Prime Minister Mario Monti was voted out while this survey was being conducted. Even the Germans, who overwhelmingly back their Chancellor Angela Merkel, are slightly more judgmental of her handling of Europe’s economic challenges than they were last year. And Merkel faces the voters in an election in September 2013.


Nevertheless, Merkel remains the most popular leader in Europe, by a wide margin. She enjoys majority approval for her handling of the European economic crisis in five of the eight nations surveyed. But in Greece (88%) and Spain (57%), majorities now say she has done a bad job, as do half (50%) of those surveyed in Italy.

But while loathing of the present is a given (and can be easily understood when one looks at such trivial indicators as the unemployment rate of most non-core countries), it is the gloom about the future that is the novel development:

Most Europeans are almost as gloomy about the future. Just 11% of the French, 14% of the Greeks and Poles, and 15% of the Czechs think that their national economic situation will improve over the next 12 months.


A median of 78% in the eight countries surveyed say a lack of jobs is a very big problem in their country. And a median of 71% cite the public debt. Except in Germany, overwhelming majorities in many countries say unemployment, the public debt, rising prices and the gap between the rich and the poor are very important problems. Unemployment is the number one worry in seven of the eight countries. Inequality is the principle concern in Germany.



Apprehension about economic mobility and inequality is also widespread. Across the eight nations polled, a median of 66%, including 90% of the French, think children today will be worse off financially than their parents when they grow up. A median of 77% believe that the economic system generally favors the wealthy. This includes 95% of the Greeks, 89% of the Spanish and 86% of the Italians. A median of 60% think the gap between the rich and the poor is a very big problem; that sentiment is felt by 84% of the Greeks and 75% of both the Italians and the Spanish. And a median of 85% say such inequality has increased in the past five years, a concern particularly prevalent among the Spanish (90%).



Absolute economic deprivation has long been less of an issue in Europe than in some other countries, thanks to the relatively robust European social safety net. But in the wake of economic hard times, deprivation in France is on the rise, where roughly one-in-five say they could not afford food, health care or clothing at some point in the past year.

One can just imagine what happens when first Europeans (and the Americans) realize that the "robust social safety net" is the biggest Ponzi scheme of all.

What is most paradoxical, is that despite their largely unconditional and widespread revulsion of their economic reality, virtually no Europeans can grasp that the root of all their problems is the joint currency, which means the only way to solve imbalances is through internal devaluation (read collapsing wages and soaring unemployment). So engrained is the mythology of the Euro, that support for the EUR is nearly strong as it has always been, with the ratio of those supporting the common currency surpassing the skeptics by a ratio anywhere between 2 and 3 to 1. Still, the country which has expressed the biggest eagerness to return to its own currency is France. Perhaps there is some hope after all.

Despite rising disillusionment with the European project, the euro, the common currency for 17 of the 27 European Union members, remains in public favor. More than six-in-ten people want to keep the euro as their currency in Greece (69%), Spain (67%), Germany (66%), Italy (64%) and France (63%). And support for the euro has actually increased in Italy and Spain since last year.

As expected, when it comes to determining government priorities, the bulk of the nations put unemployment far at the top, followed by levels of public debt (and with the BOJ and Fed assisting with the endless carry bid, what is there to worry about?), the gap between the rich and poo, and finally inflation (again, courtesy of the central planners controlling the long end of the bond curve and being buyers of first, last and only indirect resort of inflationary indicators like 30 Year paper).

The euro crisis has created a laundry list of economic concerns, but Europeans generally agree on which challenge they want their government to tackle first: jobs, jobs, jobs. In seven of eight nations, publics prefer that their governments act first on unemployment. About two-thirds of the Spanish (72%), the Italians (64%) and the Czechs (64%) say the most important issue to address is the lack of employment opportunities. Roughly half of the Greeks (52%) and the French (51%) and nearly half of the British (46%) agree.


Public debt intensely concerns more than half the population in seven of the eight countries surveyed. But those same people do not see it as a governmental priority. About one-in-five in Britain (22%), Germany (21%) and France (20%) wants their government to first cut the debt. Only 9% of Italians say debt reduction should be the priority, despite the fact that Italy’s debt is 127% of GDP.


Despite the public’s profound concern about inequality, in most countries it is a lesser priority for governmental action. Only in Germany does a plurality (42%) believe that the gap between the rich and the poor is the economic problem the government should address first.


For all the angst in financial circles about the possibility of asset bubbles and inflation as the result of loose monetary policy, European publics place a low priority on governmental initiatives to curb inflation. A median of only 9% think rising prices is the first issue their governments should address.


And then, on to the very sensitive topic of austerity. Here is how the cards lie:

In the past year, an ever more visible and vocal public policy debate has emerged in Europe over the right course of action to pull the European Union out of its double-dip recession. Fiscal conservatives advocate even greater efforts to rein in spending to reduce government indebtedness. Others argue that budgetary rectitude will have to wait, that more spending is needed now to jump-start economies stuck in neutral.


While policy makers and pundits debate, European publics have already made up their minds. When faced with the stark choice of reducing government debt or pump priming, most Europeans clearly prefer belt-tightening as the means of climbing out of their economic hole.


People’s intense worry about jobs and their strong desire to see government take action to increase employment does not translate into support for more government spending to stimulate the economy. A median of just 29% across Europe want to see increased public outlays as a means of solving their country’s economic problems. Only in Greece (56%) does a majority advocate more spending. In France, which in 2012 elected a socialist government, just 18% back a Keynesian solution to their woes.


About half or more of the population in six of the eight European countries surveyed says that the best way to solve their economic problems is for government to cut public spending to reduce the public debt.


Cutting government debt has particularly strong backing in France (81%), followed by Germany (67%) and Spain (67%), despite the fact that these three countries have had significantly different experiences with belt tightening. The French and Germans have yet to experience major austerity. In 2012, government expenditures still grew by 1.4% in France and Germany, compared with a decline of 3.7% in Spain.


Notably, it is older people, those age 50 and above, who prefer action on the debt in France. But it is younger people, those aged 18 to 29, in Poland and the Czech Republic who are deficit hawks. And it is people without a college education in Britain, France, Germany and Spain who are more concerned about public debt than their better educated peers.


There is much, much more in the full Pew study, but we will leave it off with what has always been the weakest link of Europe, and why a true union, fiscal, debt or monetary, can never be achieved: too much internal disharmony, prejudice, and legacy conflicts, manifested best of all, and always, via the internal European stereotypes between the different sovereigns:

The prominent role Germans have played in Europe’s response to the euro crisis has evoked decidedly mixed emotions from their fellow Europeans. In every country except Greece, people consider Germans the most trustworthy. At the same time, in six of the eight nations surveyed, people see the Germans as the least compassionate. And in five of the eight, they are considered the most arrogant. In the wake of the strict austerity measures imposed in Greece, Greek enmity toward the Germans knows little bound. Greeks consider the Germans to be the least trustworthy, the most arrogant and the least compassionate. But the Greeks themselves do not fare that well. They are considered the least trustworthy by the French, the Germans and the Czechs.


Good luck with ever turning this sinking ship around.

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fonzannoon's picture

Where the fuck did Beppe Grillo go? He was all piss and vinegar. I thought he was going to be the guy to actually have Italy give Germany the finger.

Tyler Durden's picture

He did. It was the other two parties that went along for the German neo-technocrat ride for their own selfish  reasons. And since they represent the majority of the population, Italy got just the government it deserves once again.

nmewn's picture

Free Shit Army on the march.

Viva my stuff!

ACP's picture

Support for EU wanes, or as Clarence Boddicker would say, "BITCHEZ LEAVE!"


malikai's picture

I didn't get the memo. Is there a reason people are buying yen and euro right now or is the squeeze on?

Like, right now.

Carl Spackler's picture

It was the best of times (Fraeulein). It was the worst of times (mademoiselle).  It was an age of...

Desert Irish's picture

We are talking about a nation state that spawned Machiavelli without consequence...Italians have been playing this game for longer than any of our grandparents (ad nuseum) were born

Room 101's picture

Patience, patience.  Governments in Italy last how long?  Once this one fails, and it will, it leaves 5 stars in the catbird seat.  What is fascinating is that all the old parties unified against Grillo. It won't last.  There is no honor amongst thieves.   

PontifexMaximus's picture

Grillo has been made "mundtot", the new government Letta will be a walk on the razerblade, he will an can only do what Berlusconi suits. Unfortunately he has taken a hit by the magistratura, Ilda Boccassina today, I hope he will get out of safe. This government will go down the draine because they simply ha e no money to satisfy their entourage, 2 months given.

Spastica Rex's picture

Why is the Euro project favorability in the Czech Republic rising? Nowhere to go but up?

/Moravian on my dad's mom's side

Rustysilver's picture

Spastica Rex,

Some Central European countires have been getting euros to get them going. Hence, Czech Rep and Poland still have some positive view of euro.

Ghordius's picture

LOL, this ties in with "virtually no Europeans can grasp that the root of all their problems is the joint currency".

Czech and Brits don't have the EUR. Are they better off?

All the article really tries is to muddle two quite separate sets of things - the EU and the eurozone, with some anti-German sentiment thrown in to spice things up and a quite novel use of "median" instead of averages to muddle further...

Readers from the UK and the US should better note how high support *still* is. What is the approval rate of Congress? 10%?

e-recep's picture

"Czech and Brits don't have the EUR. Are they better off?"

typical bankster response.

yeah, we know the economic climate in general all over the world is bad. but it has nothing to do with joining euro or not. so WHY THE FUCK should a sovereign nation give up its sovereignty on monetary matters??


Ghordius's picture

why banker? Anyway, did you read my comment at all or are you just reacting to my avatar? Meanwhile, about "why": devaluation rounds. But this ia a national matter that depends from the specific national history and experience, so suit yourself, in the same way that Chechs are unlikely to join and Poles likely...

Ghordius's picture

This is also a good one: "So engrained is the mythology of the Euro, that support for the EUR is nearly strong as it has always been, with the ratio of those supporting the common currency surpassing the skeptics by a ratio anywhere between 2 and 3 to 1."

Meanwhile the anti-EUR mythology is about what? That debasement of currency is a path to prosperity?

e-recep's picture

keeping the factories, hence the "work for czechs" "IN czech republic" is an excuse good enough.

the second excuse is WHY THE FUCK would i want to hand my monetary authority to a bunch of assholes in frankfurt? isn't czech republic a sovereing state?

screw the EURO project and all the parasites living off it.


Ghordius's picture

Your excuse is excellent, imho, it just begs the question: through a harder or weaker currency than the EUR?

e-recep's picture

sometimes harder, sometimes weaker... whatever MY country needs at that time.

but the important thing is, the issuing of money is a sacred right and it has to remain within the country. the national central bank is as important as the national army when it comes to independence.

"Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes it's laws"


Ghordius's picture

Czech-nationalistic answer, and a text-book one to boot. Nevertheless, something I can respect (+1)

Silberstein's picture

The reason is probably rising popularity of socialist party. The party itself supports EU and Euro, because EU is a wet dream of all socialist (and more and more of communists as well) all over Europe. The sheeple usually follows the party's opinion on things they don't understand.

/greetings from Moravia :)

lolmao500's picture

EXCELLENT. Now if Keynesianism could do the same thing...

nmewn's picture

Extend that Maginot Line!...lol.

jon dough's picture

Ja, und der Siegfried Linie, zu...

Bazza McKenzie's picture

France is a major country with a big opinion of itself (note, in the final table above it is the only country to consider itself the most arrogant).

It promoted the EU and euro believing they were institutions France would lead.  It has now discovered it is an also-ran to Germany within the EU and euro and its economy which was already being trashed by French policies is being trashed even harder and faster due to the additional effect of the euro.

If France can't lead it will get out and try to take the south of Europe with it (something for France to lead), but probably not for a while as it tries futilely to come up with a method that somehow allows it to exploit Germany and get control of Germany.

Rustysilver's picture

The similarity between Ottoman Empire and EU can be stated in one word: bureaucracy.

e-recep's picture

also, during its final stages the ottoman empire was living off of debt.

fonzannoon's picture

who will be the first one to bail on the EU? My guess is Texas.

bank guy in Brussels's picture

The real problem is the euro and the associated machinery, tho common people don't understand that yet

Europe and the EU were fine as a customs-free and trading etc. area ... we need to and will go back to that, after the euro currency area breaks into pieces

One thing sad for some of us about this, is all the hatred generated for 'Brussels' ... which, EU bureaucracy aside, has always been one of Western Europe's most pleasant, easygoing, and affordable capital cities in which to live ... Belgium has always had a quiet, out-of-the-way charm, a little offbeat low-key paradise with really zero poverty among legal residents ...

Belgium is so off-the-radar, it's not even mentioned in the above tables in the article !

Will be very glad to see the euro-zone collapse, the sooner the better ... and an end to all these dictatorial attitudes among the EU - Germans - Troika

Won't be too long, I think

W T F II's picture

If France leaves the Euro, Belgium will as well...!!

sitenine's picture

No shit, fucktard. In case you haven't been paying attention (and I know for a fact you haven't), Germany and France are the core propping up the overall Euro credit rating. If France leaves, the whole thing goes bust.

W T F II's picture

You have now proven your ignorance beyond your inane comments. Do you even know what the "overall Euro credit rating" is..? When was the last issuance of said debt..? Do you know how such a credit facility operates or how it is backed..? Do you have a modicum of a CLUE about what you speak..? Methinks, no make that meknows, you do not..! So, let's discuss the "facts" you know.

sitenine's picture

I have no intention what-so-ever of having any kind of conversation with you. Ever. You have all the 'facts', and you come running in here spreading your 'wisdom'.. Gee, thanks. As if my life was so empty without you or something? Really? LOL. No thank you.

W T F II's picture

Why did you answer my post if "I have no intention what-so-ever of having any kind of conversation with you"..?? It's pretty funny to violate a solemn vow IN the vow ITSELF...!!...I look forward to all your future posts for their entertainmaent value....WELL DONE...!!

Ropingdown's picture

Without taking sides in your argument, my reference for EU credit rating is the rating for European Investment Bank bonds.  If you asked me whether their very high rating will fall when the Euro falls apart, I'd guess 'yes.'  Of course the EIB also has pleaded to be given the honor of issuing Euro Bonds.  Surprise.  Every Euro-wide and EU-wide institution has been trying to up the cost of a breakup.  Natural.  There are many high-paying jobs at stake.

W T F II's picture

Pro-rata backing is all there is and will ever be. Any joint and several requires German constitutional change via popular referendum, an impossible task @ 75% minimum approval...!! I do not consider it an argument at all. The guy overtly insulted me and hasn't much clue of what he's trying to talk about.

But, thanks for your post. It's appreciated.

Rustysilver's picture

bank guy,

Have Belgian resolved their quarrel and language issue.  I haven't heard anything about it  in US lately.  There's a lot of "issues" in Quebec re french language and language police.

Are people work on some kind of accommodation or just kicking the can.

Desert Irish's picture

The reason you haven't heard much on the "issues" in Quebec is the rest of Canada stopped giving a fuck a long time ago..

rpc's picture

I agree with you, the € will collapse and that's a good thing. Mentalities are too different between the latin part of Europe, and the north.

It is never good when nations are in a debtor <-> creditor relation.

Former chancellor Kohl (a historian by education) and President Mitterrand wanted to be remembered in history books. They will, but not how they imagined!

W T F II's picture

Le Swan Tri-Couleur...??

No one sees that one coming, but it does make the most sense of all.

Gamma735's picture

Nein, Nein.  The vill be a United Europe under control of Deutschland.  Hiel Merkel!

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

People still don't get the euro.


It was designed to kill them SLOWLY

shovelhead's picture

The French are just a bit grumpy right now, but when summer comes and the cars start burning they'll cheer right up.

fonzannoon's picture

My guess is the EU and USA end up like the NCAA. Germany and Texas somehow end up in the big east. Spain, Italy and California end up in the ACC. etc. etc. etc.

Gamma735's picture

Where is Rick Patino Prime Ministering?

fonzannoon's picture

Here is my Rick Patino story. A buddy of mine was a fixed income trader for a bigtime firm where Patino had accounts. For some reason whenever Patino called in, my buddy would answer. My buddy gets engaged. Has his bachelor party out in Cali. Patino calls in and my buddy tells him about the party. Patino calls back and tells my buddy..."I hooked you up at Torrey Pines....got you two foursomes. Enjoy". My buddy was floored. He goes out there with his friends. Gets hammered. they sleep through the tee times. He gets to his desk that Monday and his phone lights up. It's Rick Patino. "Don't ever, ever...talk to me again".  Imagine having that conversation?  Brutal.

Non Passaran's picture

Fuck the EU and fuck the EU socialists who want to keep the euro, spend more and yet somehow "live better".

Tenshin Headache's picture

and yet ... they all want the Euro.

WTFUD's picture

Let's be serious the euro exists to allow the bankstas to screw the euro sheeple collectively. Unable to print escudos or francs or drachmas at will allows tighter control of the purse strings and makes it simpler to dish out special favours to the elites.

Hengist's picture

So from the last table the Germans can be trusted to be the most arrogant and least compassionate.