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Ahead of Brexit vote, support for EU falls across Europe

A survey by the Pew Research Center suggests that support for the European Union has fallen in several EU states. In Germany, the EU's popularity has fallen eight points to 50 percent in just a year.

The Pew survey revealed that 48 percent of British voters had an unfavorable opinion about the EU, compared to 44 percent who were in favor, a similar figure to recent national opinion polls.

But the research went further than simply polling the UK public

ahead of their referendum on EU membership on June the 23.

It revealed that voters elsewhere in the 28-member bloc are also losing faith in the European project.

The data revealed a growing skepticism in France, with support for the EU falling 17 percent in a year to 38 percent. Only Greece, which has suffered deep austerity imposed by Brussels, viewed the EU more negatively that the French.

Favorability ratings also fell by 16 points in Spain to 47 percent and by eight points in Germany to 50 percent.

Public support for the EU was strongest in Poland and Hungary, countries which ironically have two of the most EU-skeptical governments in the entire bloc. Around 72 percent of Poles and 61 percent of Hungarians view the EU favorably, according to the Pew data.

Economy, migration singled out

The pollsters interviewed voters in 10 EU states, including Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

Young voters and those who support left-wing parties are generally more favorable towards the European Union than the elderly or right-wing populists.

The EU's handling of the migrant crisis was viewed negatively by some 94 percent of Greeks, 88 percent of Swedes, 77 percent of Italians and 75 percent of Spaniards.

At 92 percent, Greeks were also the most disapproving of the EU's handling of the economy, followed by the Italians at 68 percent and French at 66 percent.

But, despite a mounting tide of euroskepticism, most voters in Europe would regret seeing Britain leave. Majorities in the other nine countries - including 89 percent of Swedes - oppose Brexit.

mm/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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