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EU support surges in big European countries after Brexit vote

PARIS (Reuters) - Support for the European Union has surged to multi-year highs in the bloc’s biggest countries following last month’s Brexit vote, according to a poll that will disappoint Eurosceptic parties hoping to usher their own nations out of the EU.

People hold banners during a 'March for Europe' demonstration against Britain's decision to leave the European Union, in central London, Britain July 2, 2016. REUTERS/Tom Jacobs

In an IFOP poll taken between June 28 and July 6, a few days after Britain’s vote to leave the EU, support for EU membership jumped to 81 percent in Germany, a 19 point increase from the last time the question was asked in November 2014.

In France, support surged by 10 points to 67 percent. In both countries, that was the highest level of support since at least December 2010, when IFOP started asking the question.

“Brexit shocked people in the EU,” Francois Kraus, head of the political and current affairs service at IFOP, told Reuters on Wednesday.

“Seeing the Eurosceptics’ dream come true must have triggered a reaction in people who usually criticise the EU and blame it for decisions such as austerity measures.

“But when people realise the real implications of an exit, there’s new-found support for the European project,” he said.

In the euro zone’s third-largest economy, Italy, support also rose 4 points, to 59 percent, the highest since June 2012. In Spain, some 81 percent of those polled said EU membership was a good thing, a 9 point increase in 2-1/2 years.

People in other major European countries were not keen to follow Britain’s example and hold referendums on EU membership: a majority of people in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland, said they were against such votes.

Should a referendum be held, all five countries would vote to remain in the EU, with majorities of at least 63 percent.

“Supporters of Frexit and other exits remain small minorities,” Kraus said, referring to the possibility France could leave the EU.

That is bad news for populist Eurosceptic parties who had been hoping that Brexit would give fresh impetus to their calls to quit the bloc or its euro currency.

Support for the euro surged in Germany, France, Spain and Belgium, the poll showed, with Italy the only country where the euro was less popular this month than in 2014.

Some 67 percent of Germans said they were against returning to the mark, 71 percent of the French were against returning to the franc and 57 percent of Italians and 69 percent of Spaniards said they wanted to keep the euro.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Catherine Evans