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Monitor Election and Social Research

Enthusiastic, Critical, Unimpressed, Weary – the Germans and Europe

How do people in Germany evaluate the EU? Attitudes on Europe in a representative survey

The European Union is judged according to very different criteria. While some are enthusiastic about how the European idea has become reality, others share the positive view of the goal, but are critical of its current implementation. Still others are only moderately interested in the EU, but suspect benefits for Germany. And then there are the weary, who distrust European politics and could well do without the EU. The representative survey by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung examines the variety of views on the EU.

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The European Union (EU) enjoys a high level of approval in Germany. But how do people arrive at this judgment? In a representative survey, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung has shed light on the criteria by which the EU is judged. The results reveal an astonishing diversity. There are four typical views of the EU:

  • Enthusiastic Europhiles are happy to see how Europe merges together. They would like to see ever closer ties between European countries. Germany should support its European partners regardless of advantages for itself. For the enthusiastic Europhiles these goals are realized in the current EU. They trust the EU’s politicians and believe that European unification is on the right track.
  • Critical Europhiles take a different view on this last point. They are also in favor of European unification as an important goal in itself. In their view, the other EU member states deserve Germany's support. However, there are one or two reservations when assessing the EU in the current situation. There is less trust in the actors involved or there are doubts about the benefits for Germany. Overall, however, the critical Europhiles consider European unification to be fundamentally right and worthwhile.
  • The unimpressed pragmatists are rather cautious in their assessment of the EU. They think European unification is a good thing, but whether Germany enjoys benefits is not so clear from the perspective of the unimpressed pragmatists. They are in doubt concerning the EU’s politicians. Overall they regard the EU as quite complicated and they consider their knowledge about the EU as limited.
  • The weary populists support European unification in principle, but reject the EU in its current form. They have great doubts about the benefits for Germany, they are very distrustful of politicians at European level and the weary populists consider the EU to be too complicated. From their point of view, we should take care of important things – and the EU is not considered as one of them.

People in Germany apply different standards to the EU and they differ in their assessments of how things are currently going in the EU. Overall, a large majority believe that European unification is the right thing to do and very few people want Germany to leave the EU. The EU receives a great deal of approval in Germany – but for very different reasons.

Find the entire study "Enthusiastic, Critical, Unimpressed, Weary – the Germans and Europe” here as PDF.

Please note, to date the study is only available in German.

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Dr. Jochen Roose


Electoral and Social Research +49 30 26996-3798


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About this series

The publications of the Election and Social Research Monitor are part of our Monitor publication series. The Monitor series deals with one main topic at a time from the perspective of KAS experts and places it in the political and social context on the basis of a few key points.