Last week, Andrew Neil and a panel of journos and critical thinkers introduced a new opinion poll to a room of fidgeting politicos at the Hungarian Embassy in London. Struggling to acclimatise to the rising thermostat, we listened to an opening statement by Zsolt Barthel-Rúzsa (Member of the Századvég Board of Directors) and a keynote speech by József Szájer (MEP from Hungary and vice chair of the EEP Group) where he introduces 2018’s Project28.
Project 28 is an opinion poll conducted by the Századvég Foundation to analyze the attitudes of EU citizens in order to shed light on the changing state of the continent. The survey randomly canvasses 1000 adults from 28 countries sampling opinions on immigration, prosperity, terrorism and the effects of globalisation. The poll is a barometer of political outlooks not from leaders but from its citizens. Interestingly, the results bear little resemblance to hand-on-hip power stance taken by heavyweight European leaders. In fact, the results feel a little more familiar.
Meanwhile, back in the UK we’ve been allegorically hung, drawn and quartered over our referendum result, battling a new phenomenon of intimidation and shame politics, convincing ourselves that taking back control is somehow very, very racist. Don’t ask why, it just is—although I can’t think why anyone thought it was economically achievable to absorb vast populations from troubled countries into our own. Questions were allowed to go unasked, and the consequence was addressed by the Vice President of the European Commission, who declared that at least 60pc of the migrants arrived in Europe so far had no reason to apply for refugee status. Back in 2016 Swedish Officials admitted that 80,000 (mostly) young men who had gone to Sweden as ‘refugees’ were no such thing. European empires have risen and fallen, but never have they been so gullible.
On the subject of immigration, Project28 asked “How serious a problem do you believe it is that illegal immigrants are coming into your country?” 48pc believed it was very serious and 30pc believed it was somewhat serious, wrapping up to 78pc of EU citizens concerned with illegal immigration in their countries. 57pc of Germans believed this was a very serious issue along with 54pc of France, The Brexiting UK however, polled at 47pc.
Let’s look at a radical question— “How serious a threat to Europe is the rapid population growth of Muslims?” –Uncomfortable? Muslims have been volleyed around political arguments for the last decade and in Britain we were flashed the Islamaphobia card from our European neighbours as the working theory played out in the press that Brits voted Brexit (predominately) to stop Muslim immigration. 37pc of Brits believed this was a serious issue, polling 3pc under the EU average. Germany polled at 41pc, Belgium at 42pc, France at 39pc and Denmark at 49pc.
81pc of the EU said they would rather see immigrants helped in their own countries, and only 9pc agreed to accept immigrants without limitation. 78pc say that he EU needs to protect its boarders more effectively. Perhaps the UK saw something Europe didn’t. Angela Merkel defended her decision of welcoming hoards of migrants into Germany back in 2015, however earlier this year she admitted that the ‘summer of chaos’, which saw borders breached across the EU, could not be repeated. “Something has changed in our country, although our country is doing well, although our economy is doing its best since reunification, many people are worried about the future.”
We are witnessing a rise of far-right parties in mainstream European politics, playing on scepticism about the EU, and they all stem from frustrations surrounding a migration crisis that has become difficult to contain, these parties are gaining voters in countries across the continent. Not, I’d argue, because all these citizens are racist; but because their governments aren’t listening, and when governments don’t listen, fear stacks up and dominos into political homelessness. Feeling abandoned, populations are left to drift towards extremist platforms.
Looking at the general prospective of globalisation the outlook isn’t a positive one, not least for the EU heavyweights. Only 11pc of Germans believe their children will live better than they have. 9pc for France, 7pc for Belgium and a more encouraging 18pc for the UK. The future of the Euro is again uncertain after the majority of Italians have voted for Eurosceptic parties. The Euro was meant to help integrate Europe, but it achieved the opposite. The European Commission seems more eager to listen to 30,000 lobbyists in Brussels than to ordinary citizens across the continent.
Lastly, the poll asked “in your view will the EU still exist in 10 years?”
27pc of the EU said no.