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The research found that a majority of people believe Brussels responded poorly to the pandemic. Respondents across nine EU member states, representing two-thirds of European citizens, said no one was there to help them during the outbreak. The European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank found that 63 percent in Italy and 61 percent in France think the EU did not rise to the challenge.
When Italians were asked who their most useful ally had been during the crisis, only four percent said the EU while 25 percent cited China.
The study was carried out across France, Poland, Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Italy and Sweden.
The survey of 10,000 people was conducted at the end of April by Datapraxis and YouGov.
The report, drawn up by Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard, described the level of public disillusionment as “disturbing” as EU leaders clash over a proposed €750 billion coronavirus bailout fund.
Across all nine countries, 33 percent of participants said they have lost confidence in governments based on their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite widespread disappointment in the EU, the study found that this had not translated into a boost for eurosceptic politicians.
A majority of 63 percent of respondents, including 55 percent in Germany, 80 percent in Spain and 91 percent in Portugal, said the pandemic showed the need for EU governments to work closely together.
In Italy, 76 percent of people wanted a recovery led by Brussels and just 16 percent said they wanted the response led by Matteo Salvini’s anti-EU Lega.
In Spain, 54 percent said the right-wing Vox party had gone down in their estimations.
Germany showed a six percent boost in the “improved view” of the right-wing AfD group.
The study also cast doubt on the EU’s last coronavirus recovery fund, which would see the bloc create joint debt in order to dish out grants to pandemic-stricken regions and industries.
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Only in southern and eastern European countries does the polling show a strong support for financial burden-sharing.
Mr Krastev, chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, said: “The COVID-19 crisis is most probably the greatest social experiment in our lives.
“It is still too early to predict how radically it will change our societies, but it is already obvious that the pandemic has changed the way Europeans view the world outside of Europe, and, as a result, the role of the EU in their lives.
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“The great paradox of COVID-19 is that it was the absence rather than the success of the European Union that demonstrated its relevance in the first stage of the crisis that urged European governments to opt for deeper integration.”
Mr Leonard, the founder and director of ECFR, added: “The demand for more European cooperation does not come from an appetite for institution-building but rather from a deeper anxiety of losing control in a dangerous world.
“This is a Europe of necessity rather than of choice. The European project is being rethought not as an integration process based on ideals but one based on fate. It is the shared geography that dictates common action more than shared values.”
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