The results of a opinion poll monitoring citizens attitudes to the European Union was published today. The results contain some interesting stats for Ireland and indeed for Europe as a whole.
Eight out of ten Irish people believe that our country's membership of the EU is a good thing and nine out of ten believe that we have benefited from being members of the European Union. Those figures are much higher than the average across Europe and in fact Ireland has the highest satisfaction rating, with Italy the lowest with four in ten believing their country has benefited. The U.K. at just over half satisfied (5.5 out of 10) offers a different result to their Brexit vote. The research was carried out from 23 Sept to 2 Oct this year. There were 27, 881 people interviewed on a face to face basis across the 28 member states with 1002 interviews in Ireland .
Whilst I recognise that any poll is just a snapshot in time, nevertheless these results are consistent with trends we have seen post the economic crash and more importantly for Ireland post Brexit.
When asked what are the main reasons you believe we have benefited from our membership the Irish response is, "the EU contributes to economic growth, it improves our standard of living and it brings new work opportunities" .The results from Ireland also reflect the fact that the priorities that Irish people want protected are the freedom to travel, work and study across Europe, fundamental rights and freedoms, prosperity and well being and safety in terms of health standards.
I am encouraged by these results. They demonstrate to me that Irish people believe our future is at the heart of Europe and that the issues that concern them most are prosperity and job opportunities and personal freedoms which they understand can best be delivered through a union of European states. I am always ready to admit that the EU is not perfect, that it is constantly evolving and adapting as events arise. It is union of differing nationalities with differing opinions that are not always east to reconcile. But Europe has brought peace and maintained peace, it has brought prosperity and its values are more important in today's globalised world than ever before.
See the detail of the opinion poll here.