BRUSSELS Aug 26 Popular support for European
Union membership has fallen to a nine-year low within the 27
countries in the bloc, a poll showed on Thursday.
The yearly Eurobarometer survey was carried out in May when
the EU was hit by sovereign-debt problems and when some member
states were in recession.
According to the poll, conducted by the TNS Opinion and
Social research group for the European Commission, support for
EU membership fell to 49 percent, down 4 percentage points, and
highlighted fears that the economy will deteriorate further.
The poll asked an average 1,000 people in each member state
whether membership of the EU was a good thing, a bad thing or
neither good nor bad for their country. Those voting for 'bad'
rose to 18 percent from 15 percent last year.
In Germany, the EU's biggest economy and traditionally
pro-EU, support for the bloc fell 10 points to 50 percent. Many
Germans have opposed EU-led bailouts for euro zone countries.
Some analysts and politicians have said EU institutions and
governments were too slow to react to the worst economic crisis
in decades and especially to Greek debt problems, which have
threatened to undermine the euro.
In Greece, support for the EU fell 17 points to 44 percent.
The bailout for Greece, offered by the EU and the International
Monetary Fund, came with strict austerity measures.
Trust in EU institutions fell to 42 percent from 48 percent,
but it was still higher than confidence in national parliaments,
which came in at 31 percent, down from 30 percent last year.
On the general economic situation, the percentage of those
who believe the worst was to come increased by one point to 55
percent, while 37 believed the crisis had reached its peak.
(Editing by David Brunnstrom and Nina Chestney)