Eurobarometer: Not a single answer about what the Banking Union will cost to citizens

Press conference by Cecilia Malmström, Member of the European Commission, presenting a Eurobarometer survey. Raising her hands, she seems helpless with the findings. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Press conference by Cecilia Malmström, Member of the European Commission, presenting a Eurobarometer survey. Raising her hands, she seems helpless with the findings. (EC Audiovisual Services).

At a critical time for the future of Eurozone, with the Banking Union still pending – the most important project since the euro – and the Eurobarometer survey failed to ask the citizens of the 18 euro area member states about that. Of course this is not a grave omission of the people who drafted the questionnaire, but of their political bosses, who have so far failed to inform the euro area citizens about the importance of the Banking Union project and what it means for them.

Understandably, this latest Eurobarometer public opinion survey is focused on the European elections of 2014, which constitute now the first priority for the EU parliamentarians. It’s about their jobs! The main questions asked in this survey are centred on the dynamism of the common future feeling. Citizens were asked “Are we better off economically when we act together? Should member states work in conjunction with others or are they better off on their own?”.

Like answers, like questions

Unfortunately the survey failed to explain the meaning of the common future. Not a question about what, the under construction Banking Union, will mean for hundreds of millions of citizens in the 18 euro area countries. Nothing mentioned about the future things to come, or about the financial liabilities which will be more or less shared by all.

Nobody in the EU speaks loud about all that. In this respect, the critical point which still remains unanswered and has blocked the creation of the Single Resolution Mechanism is the sharing of costs in resolving failing Eurozone banks. Will the taxpayers of all euro area countries be burdened by the cost of resolving banks in other member states? To what extent will central tackling of resolutions burden the Single Resolution Fund? How will this Fund be financed? No questions, no answers about those hot issues. The Eurobarometer didn’t want to bother citizens with difficult questions.

Answering those questions involves a much more advanced sense of a common future, than asking the citizens about ‘acting together’ in a completely abstract manner. EU politicians didn’t take any trouble to explain to their voters what does this ‘acting together’ involves. Consequently, the survey had nothing important to tell.

Meaningless survey

According to the findings of the Eurobarometer, “One in two Europeans reckons they would be better protected against the current economic crisis if their country worked together with another Member State on appropriate measures. This is in stark contrast to two-thirds of Brits who feel the UK should act on its own. At the same time the survey shows respondents in Eurozone countries in particular are more positive about coordinated action”.

This kind of response is meaningless because the questions asked have no concrete content at all. That’s why the answers given were quite predictable. The British have always been negative about the EU and Eurozone citizens are by definition more sensitive to joint action, because the euro now constitutes the base of their economic existence, or so they believe.

However, there is one more important drawback of the Parliament Press release communicating this Eurobarometer. Quite shamelessly, it restricts the information about what the citizens think about the single currency, to non-Eurozone citizens’ responses. It goes like this: “For a majority of respondents from outside the Eurozone the future of the single currency looks bright. 7 of 11 non-Eurozone countries are positive about their country introducing the euro by 2025.”

Unacceptable omission

It’s completely unacceptable to restrict the reference to citizens’ opinion about the euro, to non-Eurozone responders. In this way, it is evident what some Parliamentarians want to hide. It’s the disillusionment of the majority of citizens in the south about the euro.

In any case, this Eurobarometer survey is one of the most biased ever conducted and communicated. Of course this is the upper part of the iceberg. Beneath the water it’s the EU Parliamentarians who want to avoid informing the European Union citizens about the present stalemates in the Eurozone and the cost to resolve them.

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