Editorial: Estonians. Pro-Europe, but troubled

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Photo: euobserver.com

Are the people in Estonia pleased with the EU? On the one hand, the satisfaction with belonging is still high and our folks feel Europeans, EU citizens. On the other hand, they are worried about what's happening in Europe, especially with what isn't immediately seen in Estonia (immigration crisis, terrorism, the debt crisis of member states) and those who don't think EU image is positive are far more numerous than in spring.

In Estonia, people are still pro-Europe and very much so. As shown by Government Office poll, at least the membership is deemed to be needful and useful. The Eurobarometer poll question (for both, data were collected in November) «Do you feel a EU citizen?» is about identity. In Estonia, 72 percent said yes – as many as in Belgium, Sweden, Portugal. Not everywhere is the «citizen feeling» as high: in places like Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria, for instance, under a half feels that way. Support for the single currency is the highest in EU in Estonia at 82 percent.

At that, being pro-Europe means not that we or others see all in EU as positive or explicitly agree with all EU decisions. As compared to the springtime Eurobarometer, the positive image is down almost everywhere and the negative camp has grown.

Eurobarometer says almost all member states see the migration crisis as top trouble. Surprisingly, this is highest in Estonia (79 percent) with no «quota refugees» present as yet, but the same is said by three quarters of Germans, Danes, Swedes, Dutch and Czechs. The EU average is 58 percent. In eyes of majority of Europeans, more ought to be dome against illegal immigration on EU level and quite a broad consensus is for a single EU migration policy.  

The states would surely vary as asked what exactly to do. Among the nations under high pressure, Sweden or instance is such where a record 70 percent of respondents think immigration into EU from outside is a positive. In EU, the average of such thinkers is 34 percent while 59 say it is a negative. Influx of immigrants is seen as something bad by over 80 percent in Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech Republic, but also in Estonia and Latvia not on their travelling path.  

Summing it up, however, it cannot be claimed regarding Estonia that the refugee crisis has sharply cut our pro-Europeanness or triggered an overall negative assessment towards EU. Contrary to what lots of experts predicted in light of the springtime quota news.