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European Divide Explained by Europeans

With Spain and Greece now nearing total economic collapse, Europe is in for another summer of high-profile meetings, diplomatic half-steps, and continuing tension between Germany and its Southern neighbors. Amid all the confusion, one question remains: How do Europeans feel about all this? A recent report from the Pew Global Attitudes Project attempts to answer that question. Among the findings:

  • Germany is extremely highly regarded by other European countries—including those of southern Europe.  They are nearly unanimously the “most admired nation,” the “most hardworking,” and the “strongest supporters of European economic integration and the Union itself.” Germans, for their part, seem to share this view. Over half of the German population thinks that Germany is paving the way to a bright economic future.
  • No one trusts Greece.  Most countries ranked Greece as the “least hardworking country” and believe that Greece strongly disparages European economic integration and the European Union. Although the Greeks consider themselves the most hardworking, they also believe their country to be the most corrupt.
  • Most Europeans still feel “united,” and support for the EU remains above 50 percent in most countries. Yet a deeper look reveals some more troubling attitudes. Only 34 percent of those polled believe that European economic integration is a positive instrument; 37 percent maintain faith in the euro; and 39 percent hold favorable opinions of the European Central Bank. While the EU is still popular, the same cannot be said of the Eurozone.

Europeans think Germans are hardworking and Greeks are lazy; they like the EU, but are losing faith in the Eurozone. This explains why European policymakers are having so much trouble addressing the crisis.

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  • Jim.

    Everybody likes union in theory, but no one likes union in practice.

    This is what happens when you try to govern by happy-clappy slogan. This is a “Holy Roman Empire” – neither holy, nor Roman, nor imperial, but that nickname sure sounds good to everybody.

  • Eurydice

    OMG – Stop the presses! Is it really necessary to devote space to the superficially obvious? With all the intricate analysis going on with your Game Of Thrones watch, how can there not be any similar attention when it comes to the European situation?

    So, the reason European policymakers can’t address a continent-wide economic crisis is because people think the Germans are hard-working and the Greeks are lazy? Would you ever accept that kind of conclusion from one of your students? This is really most disappointing.

    And now to divert from ranting. With your interest in the failures of the blue state model and clean energy policy, you might like to check out an article that was on Bloomberg yesterday – about Spain’s clean energy industry, the historical effects of enormous subsidies and what’s happenng now that those subsidies have been stopped. I won’t bother to link it – your folks might want to do their own homework.

  • thibaud

    Actually, there’s an obvious insight from the study that seems to have completely escaped WRM: people on both sides of the Atlantic overwhelmingly, and correctly, identify the “power of the banks” as a major threat to their economic well-being.

    More than three times as many (71%) respondents in Europe and twice as many in the US say banks’ power as unions’ power is a huge problem.

    Very strange, then, that a public interest blog which purports to show us a new path forward is constantly talking about greedy unions and has nothing to say about the hugely negative impact of too-big-to-fail banks.

  • thibaud

    Another insight that would surprise Via Meadia readers is that Europeans are more, not less, concerned than Americans about fiscal prudence – which shouldn’t be surprising, given that Europeans tend in even higher numbers have a better understanding of the importance of good government as regards things like pension management, regulating the global banks, corporate governance etc.

    From Pew:

    “Roughly seven-in-ten Americans (71%) fret about the size of the national debt. The percentage of Europeans who share this concern is even higher. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) fear inflation; again, the concern in all but two of the European countries surveyed is higher.

    “But unease about the national debt is far more likely to be a partisan issue in the United States than it is in Europe. Europeans, whatever their political leanings, tend to see indebtedness the same way. The left-right divide in concern is five percentage points in Germany, four in France, and three in Britain. It is 20 points in the United States….”

  • thibaud

    What the above tells us, among other things, is that the US blogosphere’s extreme tendency toward tribalism gives rise to huge blind spots.

    Readers of Via Meadia and the right-wing blogs ignore or downplay the enormous dead weight of the TBTF banksters on our economy; their left-wing twins ignore or downplay the dead weight of “pay to play” hackery and government favoritism toward public sector unions.

    Neither side talks to the other; each operates in its little cocoon, which gives rise to the kind of foolishness you see from both the OWS nuts and the “Get the government out of my medicare!” Tea Partier loons.

  • Jim.


    Apologies for using Greeks as a punching bag again, but underneath that tht article makes some salient points- Europeans say they like Union, but they don’t like any practical, necessary subsystems of that union. It’s like meeting a yuppie who insists he loves sushi– except he doesn’t like seaweed. Or fish. Or rice.


    Absolutely we need to break up the banks!

  • Kenny

    Ants are ants, and grasshoppers are grasshoppers and the twain shall never meet.

  • Kevin

    Conta Thibaus, I don’t think TBTF is really a left-right divide in the US; it’s more of a populist-elite divide. Populists, of either right Tea Party or left OWS style, are concerned about TBTF. Insiders or the elite seem more accepting of gigantic banks and financial institutions, regarding the risks as lower and the advantages, either personal or to the overall economy, of them as greater.

  • Kris

    Kenny@7: “a href=””>Ant meets grasshopper

  • Kris

    thibaud@5: Quite a few of the tea partiers I know first started getting exercised over the bank bail-out, and tend to oppose TBTF banks. Are they the people you are characterizing as loons?

  • Eurydice

    @Jim – I don’t think the Europeans object to practical, necessary sub-systems of the union. I think they’re beginning to realize those sub-systems don’t actually exist.

  • Jules

    Kris – then how come TBTF banks are rarely discussed at “conservative” blogs?

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