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EUROPEAN UNION

Public support in Europe for leaving EU collapses since Brexit, new survey shows

There has been a significant decline in support for leaving the European Union within its member states following the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote, according to a new survey by the European Social Survey.

Public support in Europe for leaving EU collapses since Brexit, new survey shows
Demonstrators hold placards and EU and Union flags as they take part in a march by the People's Vote organisation in central London on October 19, 2019. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP)

The survey that was carried out both in 2016-2017 and again between 2020-2022 shows that public support for leaving the European Union has waned.

In the study, first reported by the Irish Times, respondents were asked the hypothetical question: “Imagine there were a referendum in [your country] tomorrow about membership of the European Union. Would you vote for [your country] to remain a member of the European Union or to leave the European Union?”.

The new data shows that support in favour of leaving the EU dropped in every member state.

The breakdown revealed there was an 11.8 percentage point drop in Finland between the two surveys, whilst Slovenia saw a 10 percentage point drop, 8.8 in Austria, and 8.6 in Portugal. In the Netherlands the those in favour of an EU exit fell by 8.4 percentage points in the period, while in Italy it dropped by 8.3 percentage points and in France by 7.6.

Germany saw support for leaving the EU fall by 3.8 percentage points, in Sweden the potential leave vote fell by 5.2 percentage points and Spain saw a drop of 4.7 percentage points.

When it comes to those who would vote to remain in the EU, support has increased as might be expected given the fall in support for leave, but surprisingly not among all countries.

The share of respondents who would vote to remain in the EU rose by 14.8 percentage points in Finland, 11.2 in the Netherlands, 10.5 in Slovenia, 9.7 in Czechia, 8.2 in Hungary, 8.1 in Portugal, 7.5 in Italy, and 6.7 in France.

Despite most expressing a wish to remain in the EU, not every country saw a rise in support for voting to remain. In Germany, there was a drop of 5.1 percentage points for remain, 3.4 in Poland, 1.7 in Spain and 0.4 in Sweden. But in these countries respondents did not switch to backing leave but gave answers indicating they didn’t know which side they would vote for or that they just wouldn’t vote.

The survey’s results also reveal respondents’ growing attachment to the EU since 2016 in most member states. In France emotional connection to the EU rose from 44 percent to 48.8 percent and in Italy from 37.2 percent to 44.3 percent. In Hungary where the government has been in conflict with the EU, attachment grew from 60 percent to 70.3 percent.

The period covered by the survey coincides with the tortuous negotiations between the UK and Brussels over Brexit as well as a period of political and economic turmoil in the UK which has been partly blamed on Britain’s hard divorce from the EU. It also coincided with the Covid pandemic which saw EU countries working together over the vaccine roll out and travel regulations.

Eurosceptic parties such as Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally in France, as well as parties in Italy and the Netherlands have in recent years dropped calls for their countries to leave the EU or the single currency but instead advocated for the union to reform.

Member comments

  1. The Irish Times are so anti Uk that anything they say has no relevance.They should remember that even today many Irish can go to the UK and work without an issue.
    COVID ,Net zero,Immigration and Ukraine have put a spanner in the works on Brexit and to think otherwise is sheer blindness.
    The present government has failed also to implement any changes.
    People voted against the EU rather than for Brexit.
    The Local as always a mix of Left and Wokery.

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BREXIT

IN FIGURES: How many Brits have had their post-Brexit residence status rejected?

Following Brexit, many Brits in Sweden had to apply for post-Brexit residence status to stay in Sweden. How many Brits have applied, how many were rejected, and what happened to those who weren't granted residence status?

IN FIGURES: How many Brits have had their post-Brexit residence status rejected?

Between November 2020 and December 2022, a total of 12,461 Brits applied for post-Brexit residence status to retain their rights to live in Sweden under EU law. Of these 12,461 applications, 11,495 had been concluded by the end of 2022, with 966 still waiting for a response.

How many applications were approved?

According to Migration Agency figures seen by The Local, a total of 9,340 applications for post-Brexit residence status were approved between December 2020 and December 2022, meaning that more than four in five, 81.25 percent, of applications for residence status processed in this time period were granted.

The number of applications approved per month corresponded almost exactly to the number of applications submitted per month, with the most approvals (3,178) occuring in December 2020. December 2020 also saw the highest number of submissions: 3,529. There was another small peak in December 2021, where 432 of a total of 775 applications were rejected.

These two peaks in application numbers are probably due to the fact that December 2020 was the month when applications opened and December 2021 the last month before they closed.

How many applications were rejected?

A total of 2,155 applications for post-Brexit residence status were rejected between November 2020 and December 2022.

This means that around 18.75 percent of applications for post-Brexit residence status were rejected in this time period.

Again, the highest number of rejections occured in December 2020, with another peak in December 2021, where 223 applications were rejected.

 

Why were applications rejected?

When The Local contacted the Migration Agency for more information on why applications were rejected, press officer Frederik Abbemo was unable to give us exact information on the number of cases rejected for each possible reason.

However, he was able to give us a rough idea of the most common reasons for rejection.

"The most common reasons applications were rejected were incomplete applications, late applications, applications where the applicant did not fulfil the requirement for residence status, and applications listed as 'reason unknown', where we cannot see in the statistics why the application has been categorised that way," he said.

What about people who appealed their applications?

According to Abbemo, around 450 of the 2,155 rejected applications were appealed to the Migration Court (Migrationsdomstolen). Of these 450 appeals, "around 20" were overturned, with the applicants being granted residence status.

It is not clear how many of those who appealed, if any, are yet to receive a verdict.

What has happened to the Brits who had their applications rejected?

It's difficult to know exactly what has happened in each individual case, but we can draw some conclusions based on other data.

For example, new figures from Eurostat earlier this month showed that Sweden has ordered 1,050 Brits to leave the country following Brexit - more than any other EU country. This number includes Brits refused entry at the Swedish border, Brits found to be illegally present in Sweden, and Brits ordered to leave for other reasons.

The Eurostat figures cover a slightly different time period than the figures from the Migration Agency above, stretching from January 2021 to September 2022.

If we focus on Migration Agency figures for the same period, January 2021 to September 2022, a total of 1,857 people had their applications for residence status rejected in this time period. This suggests that at least 800 Brits who did not receive residence status were able to stay in Sweden in other ways.

One way of staying in Sweden legally despite not being granted residence status could be by holding a valid residence permit (uppehållstillstånd) under different rules (such as due to being in a relationship with a Swede or applying for a work permit), or by holding Swedish citizenship, which also gives you the right to live in Sweden.

Could the EU figures include people who never applied in the first place?

Yes. The Eurostat figures also include Brits living in Sweden illegally who never applied for post-Brexit residence status, who receive an order to leave when detected by the Swedish authorities.

Many are indeed unaware of the fact that they should have applied and that their stay in Sweden is illegal, and have simply not realised that their permanent right of residence under EU law (permanent uppehållsrätt) ceased to be valid when the UK left the EU.

A number of people in this category are detected when they leave the country and re-enter (like what happened to Brit Stuart Philpott in this article), and others only discover they are living here illegally when they receive an order to leave from the Migration Agency.

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