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Symbial / Opinea Exclusive Research

Survey conducted online among a representative sample of 1005 French people in March 2018.

EUROPEAN UNION: What the French would like?

With one year to go before the European elections, the state of opinion on the major issues deserves to be brought to the attention of politicians and economic agents. What effects do the Brexit, the protest votes in neighbouring countries, the migration crisis and international tensions have on the links between the French and Europe?

Why this survey?

From the single currency to the governance of the EU, from border controls to discussions on the entry of new countries, from international trade agreements to the return of nations, all of these issues will be on the minds of Europeans in a few months.
  • We wanted to put the French people and the diversity of their opinion at the heart of the debate.
  • And also to make sense of the apparent oppositions that run through Europe today.

 Research Results

1. Do you think that the French franc should be reinstated rather than fighting for the euro?


The euro issue is behind us: 66% of French people do not want to return to the franc

Two-thirds of French people want to keep the euro (+4% / 2012). And 40% categorically rule out any return to the franc.

Well understood benefits of the single currency

The benefits of the common currency to Europeans seem to be increasingly recognised by the majority. Doubts about EU policy do not affect the acceptance of the euro in France.

2. Does the European Union, as it stands today, meet your concerns in the economic and social field?


The public still believes in Europe’s ability to respond to economic and social challenges, but 4 points have been lost in 6 years

A majority of French people (56%) believe that the EU is positive in the economic and social field, but since 2012 4 points have been lost on this positive judgment.

3. Do you feel French and European at the same time?


The French feel more and more European

66% of French people feel both European and French (+ 1 point / 2012). The younger generation is even more positive about this dual identity, while women and the 45-54 age group are the least in agreement with this statement.

4. Would you agree to talk about a Europe of Nations instead of the European Union?


Long live a Europe of Nations!

64% -> A very large majority prefers the Europe of Nations to the European Union (+ 2 points / 2012). This name reflects the persistent attachment of the French to the national sovereignty of each Member State.

5. In your opinion, is the European Union capable of dealing with legal and illegal immigration issues?


The European Union’s weakness in dealing with immigration remains worrying but has not worsened in the last 6 years

59% of the French consider that the EU is not capable of dealing properly with the challenges of migration to the continent (idem / 2012). A slight majority of the under-35s also have doubts (51.5%), while the over-35s are the most critical (62.8% believe that the EU is not capable of controlling immigration).

6. In your opinion, is the European Union capable of dealing with international affairs?


The EU defends the French internationally

65% of French people believe that the EU is capable of dealing with international issues (+ 1 point / 2012). The over-65s are much more sceptical (46% believe that the EU is not capable).

7. Which of these countries (currently under negotiation) do you think should be allowed to join the European Union?


The French are against further enlargement

67% believe that the EU should no longer integrate new countries into the Union. The country with the most support for possible membership is Serbia with 16.9%, while Turkey has only 10%. Those most in favour of new memberships are the under-25s (55%) compared to 71% opposition from others. Women are also the most opposed, with 75% refusing to accept new members, compared to 59% of men.

8. Is it in the interest of the French to ratify the free trade treaties (which have been signed or are being negotiated) with the 4 Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay), Ceta (Canada), and Tafta (USA)?


The public is divided on international trade agreements

Opinions are completely opposed on this issue (50% in favour and 50% against). The most opposed are the over 45s (59% are against).

What do you think?

The media’s emphasis on the election results in Eastern Europe, Great Britain, Italy and Germany seemed to herald a “populist” wave in France as in the other countries of the European Union. It appears that the French are more measured than some editorialists think. They are increasingly attached to the euro, but also to the sovereignty of their country. The end of internal borders seems illusory to them, especially as the control of migratory flows by European institutions is far from convincing. The pursuit of federalism, the opening up to world markets and the integration of new countries into the Union are confronted with a strong demand for economic, cultural and social security. The synthesis of these results could be that the European Constitutional Treaty that was rejected in May 2005 by referendum in France would be rejected again today. It is likely that the electoral debates in the next European election campaign will pit federalists against nationalists, supporters of benevolent and unavoidable immigration against the more cautious and non-resigned, but also the globalised against the localised. Sociologically, the debates will oppose the generations (over or under 35 years old), the territories (metropolises and “peripheral” France), and politically the heirs of national history to the citizens of the world without borders. Fascinating!