Support for the EU has never been stronger, yet a majority think it could be gone within 20 years. If you’ve ever wondered whether a deep neurosis lies at the very heart of Europe, here is your proof.
The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), one of those handsomely funded think tanks that definitely does not want to see the end of the EU, found this deep pessimism in some of the biggest members, particularly in France.

It was very common to find that most people in member states see it as a realistic chance that in two decades the EU will have disintegrated. That will sound like an optimistic prediction to the desperate Brexiteers in Britain who are finding it impossible to get out of the thing. They’ll probably still be trying to cut a deal to leave long after it has gone.

In fact, if I was the British government I would make waiting for the EU’s collapse central to my negotiating strategy as the most realistic route to Brexit success.

This unveiling of the state of mind in the EU is an interesting view into the human condition. Hard bitten cynical Britain, which is desperately trying to get out of the union, thinks it’s going to last forever, while the lovelorn continentals love it so much they’re convinced it must end.

The most pessimistic about the staying power of the EU are the Slovaks. No one who has been to Eastern Europe will be surprised to find pessimistic natives.

In second place however is France, the second biggest power in the EU, where 58% believe the EU will be consigned to the dustbin of history within a generation.

President Emmanuel Macron is perhaps the biggest EU cheerleader of all of Europe’s leaders, certainly of all the leaders that anyone can recognise, so it could be that the French might see that as bad omen in itself.

Macron is a master of the unintended consequence with the formation of the Yellow Vest movement being the most productive part of his domestic tenure so far. The well-compensated technocrats of Brussels may want to tell him to stop supporting the EU, at least publicly.

When the ECFR asked Europeans: “What is your feeling about life?” (pretty vague if you ask me, but it’s their survey) a high percentage of the French said they feel “afraid,” compared to the Germans who are feeling “optimistic.” I suppose history shows that when Germany is feeling optimistic then it’s a wise move for Paris to express a healthy level of fear.

And that takes us on to the question ‘Is war between member states realistic?’ A third of people in France thought it was. A third of people in Poland also thought it was realistic, and I don’t need to tell you what those two nations have in common. Luckily just a quarter of Germans think a European war is realistic, so that should calm some nerves.

It’s actually an interesting way to word that question. Rather than asking whether war was ‘likely’, people were asked whether it is realistic.  Well, yes, it is realistic, you only have to look at, for example, y’know, the entire history of Europe to know that. Is it likely? Well there you’d have to say no because cleverly the Europeans have outsourced all the war fighting to the US, so they can spend more time fretting that everything they love could end at any moment.

And finally, guess which EU members described themselves as feeling mostly ‘happy’ and ‘safe.’ Yep, you got it, Denmark and Sweden, which just goes to show that the only true path to contentment is extreme smugness.

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