In a new Eurobarometer poll on public opinion in the European Union, 50 percent of Italians said they did not feel like a citizen of the EU. Only Bulgarians and Greeks felt more detached from the EU, at 51 and 53 percent respectively.
Moreover, only 32 percent said they knew their rights as an EU citizen; the lowest percentage of all EU countries.
Opinion about the future of the EU appeared to be split, with 48 percent declaring themselves to be optimistic and 46 percent pessimistic.
Opinion regarding their national economy, meanwhile, was even more negative, with 94 percent declaring the situation to be “bad”. Only Greece, Portugal and Spain were more pessimistic, at 96 percent.
In the survey, which was requested and coordinated by the European Commission, a total of 1,036 Italians were questioned between May 31st and June 9th.
The survey comes two months after the European elections which was marked by a rise in support for Eurosceptic parties, notably in the UK, France and Denmark.
The results of the poll are surprising for Italy which saw Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s pro-European Democratic Party scoop 40.8 percent of Italian votes. July also saw Italy begin its six-month EU presidency.
Speaking to MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, at the inauguration of Italy’s presidency, Renzi compared Europe to an "exhausted selfie".
“With extreme worry, I must say that if Europe today took a selfie, an exhausted face would emerge, in some cases one of resignation,” he said.
The prime minister also called for greater unity among the EU’s 28 countries, arguing “if we keep closing ourselves inside our borders, we won't move forward.”