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New opinion poll: German voters say next German chancellor should back efforts to devolve EU powers to member states

17 Sep 2013

Open Europe and Open Europe Berlin have today published the second part of a poll looking at German voters’ views on Europe ahead of the country’s elections on 22 September. The poll, conducted by YouGov Deutschland, shows that there’s considerable support in Germany for slimming down the EU.

Of 13 national and European institutions tested, Germans have the least trust in the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Open Europe Director Mats Persson said:

“Though Germany will remain strongly wedded to Europe, once the question of EU powers is boiled down to specific policies, there’s widespread support amongst German public opinion for the return of powers from Brussels to member states, further reinforcing the view that there’s a growing appetite across the continent for less Europe in many areas.”

“A clear majority of Germans also believe that a British EU exit would be very damaging for Germany and the EU, and therefore want the next Chancellor to actively strive to keep the UK on board, even if France is still seen as Germany’s key ally in Europe.”

To read Open Europe’s briefing on the poll findings, including the exact questions and answers:

Key findings: 

The European Parliament and the European Commission are the least trusted:  Of 13 domestic and European institutions tested, German voters trust the country’s constitutional court (the Bundesverfassungsgericht) the most (71% of voters). They have the least faith in the European Parliament and the European Commission, which are only trusted by 33% and 30% of voters respectively. In contrast, the German government and parliament are trusted by 44% and 45% respectively. The Bundesbank has clearly suffered a reputational hit in the crisis, with the same amount (47%) now saying they trust it as those who don’t. However, only 38% say they trust the ECB.

Strong support for devolving powers from the EU to member states: By a margin of two to one (50% in favour, 26% against), German voters say the next German Chancellor should back the efforts to decentralise powers from the EU to the national, regional or local level.

Similarly, when given three options, a slimmed down EU proved the most popular, with 41% of voters saying they want the EU to have fewer powers, versus 36% who favour the status quo and only 23% who want the EU to have more powers.

A majority of German voters support less Brussels involvement in at least eight EU policy areas. When various individual policies were tested a majority of Germans wanted less EU involvement in at least eight policy areas:

- Six in ten voters (60%) think national parliaments should be given more powers to block unwanted EU laws (25% disagreed).  

- 61% thought decisions over regional development subsidies should only be made by national politicians rather than at the EU-level (24% tend to disagree).

- 58% thought agricultural subsidies should be national (26% disagreed).

- Six in ten voters (60%) said decisions over criminal justice, data protection and employment laws should be made by national politicians rather than at the EU level (26%, 27% and 24% disagree respectively).

- Just over half (51%) think decisions on intra-EU immigration should be made at the national level (30% disagreed).

- Fisheries, food standards and climate change were examples of areas where a majority of Germans appear to support continued EU involvement.

Strong support for keeping the UK in the EU: A majority (53%) said the UK leaving the EU would be very bad or bad for Germany’s economic and political interests (30% disagreed). 57% said the UK leaving would be damaging to the prestige and credibility of the EU – the same share who said that the next German government should actively strive to keep the UK within the EU.

Whilst 63% of voters said Germany and Britain could be strong allies in reforming the EU, 50% disagreed with the statement that “Germany and Britain are more natural allies in Europe than Germany and France,” while 33% agreed. 

France still considered the most important ally for Germany: When asked to rank countries in order of their political and economic importance to Germany, France remains the uncontested leader being ranked first by 61% of respondents. The UK was a distant second being ranked first by 19%.

But Hollande is less popular: However, when asked to rank European leaders in order of how much voters  trust them, the largest share of respondents (30%) put David Cameron top, with 26% ranking Francois Hollande the highest, followed by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (ranked first by 18%).

Efforts to save the euro should not undermine the single market: 67% of voters said decisions made to stabilise the euro should not be allowed to impinge on the EU’s common market or undermine countries who don’t share the single currency.

Methodology Note

YouGov Deutschland interviewed 1,010 adults online between 21 and 26 August 2013. Data were weighted to be representative of German adults aged 18+. Data were also weighted to past vote recall.

For a full break-down of the answers including demographical data and voting intentions: 

Notes for editors

1) For more information, please contact Open Europe on 0044 (0)207 197 2333; Nina Schick on 0044 (0)752 21 159 34 or Mats Persson on 0044 (0) 779 94 606 91. For Open Europe Berlin, contact Professor Dr Michael Wohlgemuth on 0049 (0)30 2758 1365

2) Open Europe is an independent think-tank calling for reform of the European Union. Its supporters include: Lord Leach of Fairford, Director, Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd; Lord Wolfson, Chief Executive, Next Plc; Hugh Sloane, Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Sloane Robinson; Sir Stuart Rose, former Chairman, Marks and Spencer Plc; Jeremy Hosking, Director, Marathon Asset Management; Sir Henry Keswick, Chairman, Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd; Sir Martin Jacomb, former Chairman, Prudential Plc; Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover KG, Life President, J Sainsbury Plc; Michael Dobson, Chief Executive, Schroders Plc; David Mayhew, former Chairman, JP Morgan Cazenove; Tom Kremer, Chairman, Seven Towns Ltd; Michael Freeman, Co-founder, Argent property group.

For a full list, please click here:

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