While the majority of French people are still broadly supportive of the EU, two-thirds think more needs to be done to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into France, a poll published today showed.
Almost three-quarters of respondents said France was “in decline,” despite the centrist government’s efforts to reboot the economy via a string of tough reforms and spending cuts.
The annual survey on “French divisions” by pollster Ipsos Sopra-Steria for the daily Le Monde showed that 53 per cent of French people think that their country’s European Union membership is “a good thing,” compared to 31 per cent who think it’s “a bad thing”.
In June 2017, however, 58 per cent said France’s EU membership was a good thing, while 26 per cent said it was a bad thing. A slight but noticeable uptick in eurosceptic sentiment that reflects growing dissatisfaction over the bloc’s handling of recent crises, including the trade war with Washington and the migrant problem.
The poll also showed a sharp erosion of trust in the EU: only 36 per cent said they trusted EU institutions, down from 41 per cent in July 2017.
“The European project is backed by the middle and upper class, but rejected by the working class,” an Ipsos pollster told Le Monde.
Some 70 per cent of respondents, for their part, said the EU had to “fight harder” against US President Donald Trump, saying that EU leaders’ response to Washington’s recent decisions, namely the Iran nuclear deal pullout and punishing trade tariffs, was “inappropriate” and should have been tougher.
Some 46 per cent said the EU had to “strengthen its position on the international stage”.
The recent disputes over refugee and migrant quotas – reignited by Italy’s decision to turn away all humanitarian rescue boats and calls for more EU solidarity – have also cast a harsh spotlight on the EU’s failure to solve the migrant crisis.
Some 63 per cent of those interviewed told pollsters they “disapproved” of the EU’s immigration and asylum rules.
The poll also showed that two-thirds of French people think there are “too many immigrants living in France,” while 62 per cent said that most immigrants “showed no interest in integrating into French society”.
The poll also confirmed growing doubts over President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to deeply transform France, one of his key campaign pledges.
Some 70 per cent of those polled said France was a country “in decline,” while 24 per cent said this decline was “irreversible”.
Mr Macron’s tough reform plans have divided public opinion in France. While some have welcomed his efforts to modernise the French economy, others have fiercely criticised his rich-friendly policies, which have earned him the nickname “president of the rich” among opponents.
The annual Ipsos Sopra-Steria poll of 998 French people aged 18 and over was carried out online between June 27 and July 2.