The assembly election is not the only election in the pipeline. The referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union is also being held this summer on June 23. As a result, the section in the Generation Beth survey which focuses on Wales’ position in Europe is very timely. I’ll be looking at two questions in this blog. It’s fair to say that this is a hot topic in Wales and the UK, but what about the rest of Europe? What is the view of the rest of Europe about the European community?
Do you feel European?
We can see from the map that Wales is coloured green, which represents the answer, “Yes, I do.” However, we need to be careful because the difference between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ is quite small. We see from the data that 53% of respondents answered that they do feel European, While 47% say they do not. It’s possible to conclude that that there is no clear consensus about European identity among the respondents. If we look at the UK, including Wales, the percentage of people who feel European rises to 56%. The data collected so far suggests that Welsh people feel less European than the rest of Britain.
Interestingly, the sense of belonging to Europe seems a lot stronger in the continental countries, with a large majority in countries where over 70% and 80% answer ‘Yes’ to the question. Only one Country in Europe had over 50% saying that they did not feel European and that is Ireland, with 55%. This shows that embracing the Euro as a currency does not necessarily lead to European identity.
The data suggests that the people of the British Isles see themselves as different to continental Europe. This difference can probably be explained by social and historical reasons. Is it also due to living on an Island and the body of water that lies between ‘them’ and ‘us’? Take a look at the video clips to hear people discussing their answers to this question. The clips are fascinating, and put some meat on the bone of this raw data.
Should we leave the European Union?
But what about the European Union itself? Does the lack of European identity amongst Britons endanger our future membership of the EU? Does the current economic situation and concerns about border management augur well for those who would like to see Britain leave the EU?
The Welsh figures are very clear, with 66% disagreeing that we should leave the European Union. 25% agree with leaving the EU, with 9% having no opinion. The data suggests that lack of European identity does not necessarily mean people want to leave the EU. There are possibly other factors at work, economic factors, for example. Will money be the deciding factor in the vote?
If we look at British data as a whole, the percentage in favour of leaving the EU is almost identical, with 47% wanting to leave, and 46% wanting to stay. These percentages are exceptionally close and promise us an interesting few months ahead with the ‘leave’ and ‘stay’ campaigns going head to head.
What’s your view? Take part in the questionnaire and let your voice be heard.
Blog by Cynog Prys