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Foreign Exchange

France, Italy and Spain regret joining euro, survey shows; EU support weakening

A survey of eight EU members by the Pew Research Centre, an independent polling agency, shows a striking lack of support for the single currency in several eurozone countries.

Among the five eurozone nations surveyed - France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece - a median of only 37% believes having the euro as their currency has been a good thing. This includes just 30% of the Italians and 31% of the French. Ironically, Greece showed the greatest support for the euro in the survey, with 46% who think having the euro was a good thing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the EU members who are not members of the monetary union are happy to have retained their own currencies.

View on being a euro member or non-member                     
Majorities say keep the euro
Source: Pew Research Centre

Although the popular view in France, Italy and Spain is that joining the single currency was a mistake, the survey shows there is reluctance to return to their native currencies at this point. Despite growing calls for a Greek exit from the single currency, of the countries surveyed the Greeks showed the greatest willingness to remain in the eurozone, with only 23% endorsing a return to the drachma.

Even in Spain, where Pew say support for the euro has fallen nine percentage points since 2009, only a third of the population is in favour of reinstating the peseta. In Italy, opinion is more divided, with 40% in favour of ditching the euro.

Pew said that, according to its results, it is notably older people in Spain and France who are especially supportive of the single currency, with younger generations showing far greater scepticism.

Doubts cast on benefits of EU membership

Majorities see little economic benefit of EU
Support has fallen in the last 3 years
Source: Pew

The deepening of the sovereign debt crisis might also be responsible for declining faith in the benefits of a unified Europe. Across the eight EU member countries surveyed, a median of only 34% think European economic integration has strengthened their country's economy.

Indeed, majorities or near majorities in most nations now believe that the economic integration of Europe has weakened their economies.

Only in Germany is there a growing majority that believes that integration has been an economic boon for the nation and a strong majority that says EU membership has been good.

Pew also highlights some sharp differences in stereotyped perceptions across Europeans. The Germans are judged to be Europe''s most hard-working people by all eight countries with the exception of Greece.

The survey shows the Greeks consider themselves the hardest workers in Europe but, interestingly, also the most corrupt.

Greece was seen as the least hard-working nation by five out of the eight countries.

Source: Pew
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