The Guardian newspaper (24 April) includes a disturbing report on the dramatic decline in trust of the EU by its residents. The six largest countries in the EU include 350m of the 500m EU population, and now in all but Poland more people distrust than trust the EU. In Spain the level of distrust has dramatically grown from 23% in 2007 to 72% in 2012.
A key extract is:
” ‘ The damage is so deep that it does not matter whether you come from a creditor, debtor country, euro would-be member or the UK: everybody is worse off,’ said José Ignacio Torreblanca, head of the ECFR’s Madrid office. ‘Citizens now think that their national democracy is being subverted by the way the euro crisis is conducted.’ EU leaders are aware of the problem, [but are] utterly at odds over what to do about it …”
ECFR is a thinktank, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and they analysed data produced by Eurobarometer, the EU’s official polling organisation.
This loss of trust is not confined to the EU, similar great losses are found in trust of national politics, of banks, and of international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
But trust of the EU has held up the most in Poland and it is no coincidence that their country has received the largest injection of EU funds in recent years to develop their economy after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1989 we saw the crisis in communism, but fewer politicians have yet acknowledged that in 2007 we saw a crisis in capitalism.
After World War 2 it was realised that Europe’s devastated economy needed to be rebuilt, to avoid repeating the chaos and decline into political extremism that had followed the mis-managed political and economic arrangements after World War 1.
The Marshall Plan was the lesson we seem to have forgotten, or some political interests have chosen to ignore.
One hundred years later the people of Europe feel this mis-management is being repeated and there is little trust left.