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EU: A marriage of convenience

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NOS News

Survey: EU useful but not loved

The Dutch see the added value of the European Union in addressing a number of cross-border problems. Only 18 percent favor a “nexit,” a departure from the EU. But there is no love for the Union, partly because of a lack of trust in the integrity of other European countries’ governance.

This is according to a representative survey conducted by Ipsos I&O on behalf of the civil service journal Binnenlands Bestuur in the run-up to the European elections from June 6 to 9.

Researchers Maartje van de Koppel and Peter Kanne speak of a “marriage of convenience” between Dutch citizens and the EU: “There is virtually no ‘Europe feeling’ and the democratic representation of citizens leaves much to be desired in their own eyes.”

EU as a stabilizing factor

Important issues in which the Dutch believe Europe can add value are particularly tackling the climate problem and international conflicts and wars. These are pressing issues in which citizens also see a greater role for the European Union than for their own national government. They also believe Europe can add value when it comes to immigration. “In addition, some see the EU as a stabilizing factor,” Kanne says.

So still the vast majority want the Netherlands to remain within the Union.

However, there are significant differences between voters for different parties. Whereas among Volt’s supporters there is literally zero support for a nexit, among PVV’ers it is an entirely different story.

In general, few Dutch citizens like the way democracy works in Europe. On average, they give it a 5 as a rating.

They have the impression that the EU stands up for big business and politicians rather than for them as citizens. Half (49 percent) agree with the statement that “people like me shouldn’t have any influence on European politics. Only a quarter are satisfied with the integrity of governance in European Union member states, that is, governance free of corruption and cronyism.

Moreover, few Dutch people feel truly European.

Not coincidentally, turnout in European elections tends to be low. In 2019, it was 42 percent, and according to Ipsos I&O, there are currently no signs that substantially more people will go to the polls in this election.

The survey also shows that it is mostly highly educated and older people who follow European politics closely or (especially) broadly. These are also the groups that vote above average in European elections and thus, more than, for example, in elections to the House of Representatives, largely determine the outcome.


In the Ipsos I&O survey, 2,138 people aged 18 and older participated. The questions were asked from March 22 to 25. The survey results were weighted by gender, age, region, education level and voting patterns in last November’s House elections. This makes the sample representative of eligible voters in the Netherlands.

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