France is “more pessimistic” about the state of its economy than fellow eurozone countries, according to The Eurobarometer survey published today (25 July). The European Commission survey has found that while the overall Eurozone sentiment rose slightly, France’s Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) score fell 0.9 points to 95.2. Europeans are overall feeling slightly more positive – 35 percent, up 4 percentage points on autumn 2013 –about the EU economy but well over a third still feel “neutral” and about a quarter feel outright negative about it. The survey also seeks to explain the “most pessimistic” views on the economic future in France by pointing to the sharp decline in consumer confidence in November, which reflects “worsening expectations about the future general economic situation, unemployment expectations and savings over the next 12 months.” French people are the most anxious about the future, with only 34 percent of them feeling the jobs crisis has peaked compared with 60 percent who are bracing themselves for a darker economic future.
The Eurobarometer survey also asked respondents about the degree to which they think that their voice is heard in the EU. About 52 percent now feels their voice does not count in the EU, which is an improvement down from 66 percent last year. At the same time, the number of respondents believing their voice is heard has leapt by 13 points to 42 percent. In an attempt to explain this interesting development, the pollsters suggest that this can be seen in the context of the EU elections to the European Parliament held in May just before the survey was conducted. However, there are large differences between individual member states: while 75 percent of Cypriots, 74 percent of Czechs, Greeks and Latvians and 73 percent of Italians have a feeling of being disregarded at the EU level, we can find the Swedes, Danes and Dutch at the other end of the scale who are most inclined to feel they are being listened to in Brussels. All in all, however, trust at both the EU and the national level for the European Union still remains low – now standing at 31 percent, compared with 57 percent in 2007, before the economic crisis started.