Europe Stands Firm: Europeans Back Solidarity Over National Self-Interest to Get out of Crisis

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Europeans remain committed to working together to get out of the crisis.

Research reveals Europeans refuse to blame ordinary people in countries like Greece for the crisis—but think our politicians have seriously lost touch.

Fear of falling into poverty is the greatest worry for Europeans right now.

Despite the different challenges facing European nations, the large majority of Europeans believe that standing in solidarity and working together is the best way of getting out of the current crises facing the continent. Two thirds (67 percent) of Europeans surveyed say countries in Europe must show solidarity and work together in order to tackle current economic and social challenges. In sharp contrast, only a third (33 percent) of Europeans believe countries should prioritize national self-interests instead.

The research, carried out as the crisis in Cyprus was beginning to escalate, was commissioned by the Open Society Foundations, an organization founded by George Soros which works to promote fairer and more open societies. The research surveyed over 4,000 Europeans in France, Germany, Italy and Spain and coincides with the launch of a two-minute film that calls for solidarity in Europe which can be viewed on www.solidaritynow.org.

“As our interdependence becomes ever clearer, more and more Europeans realise that we will only get out of this crisis together, not apart,” commented Jordi Vaquer, director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe. “But this solidarity is in real danger of being permanently undermined. Our research also shows that 85 percent of Europeans surveyed feel that European unity and solidarity has been severely or permanently damaged by the economic crisis.” 

Open Society Foundations’ research reveals that people across Europe refuse to blame ordinary people in countries such as Greece for the crisis. Three quarters (74 percent) of Europeans surveyed agree that ordinary people in countries like Greece are unfairly suffering the consequences of a crisis that they didn't create. However, an overwhelming 92 percent believe politicians across Europe have lost touch with the suffering of ordinary people in the wake of the financial crisis.

“Solidarity among ordinary people in Europe is at real risk,” commented Vaquer. “People across Europe clearly identify with one another and recognize the social and economic pressures we face. But continuing to demand such a high price from ordinary Europeans to get out of this crisis is killing, not saving, European unity.”

Fear of poverty brought on by lower wages and rising prices is the greatest worry of over 70 percent of Europeans surveyed. Country specific concerns also emerged; in Germany, concern is high (35 percent) over increased disagreement or tension between different European countries; in Italy, the impact of the crisis on young people is a major worry with high unemployment and reduced opportunities for young people ranking in the country’s top three concerns.

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1. Solidarity Now is a network of organizations in Greece, begun by Open Society Foundations, working together to tackle the effects of the crisis on the country’s most vulnerable. 

2. This research was carried out by Populus Data Solutions and fieldwork was conducted March 15 to 18 2013. 

3. The findings above are based on data from France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

4. 5,103 people in total were surveyed; 1,036 people in France; 1,002 people in Spain; 1,013 in Germany; 1,030 in Italy; 1,022 in the UK. Representative samples were surveyed in all countries.