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 user 2005-01-29 at 10:28:00 am Views: 112
  • #9959

    Europeans ‘ignorant’ of EU treaty


    One in 10 European
    Union citizens know little or
    nothing about the new EU constitution, a study suggests.

    But half of the 25,000 polled by the EU said they would vote in favour of the treaty, which faces referenda in many of the union’s 25 member states.

    The UK was the only country where more of those questioned were against the constitution than in favour.

    More than one in three people remain undecided, with indecision highest in states planning to hold a referendum.

    The EU-wide poll, conducted in October last year, found that only 11% felt they knew the content of the European Constitution “globally”.

    Fifty-six per cent said they knew a little, while 33% had never heard of the constitution.

    ‘Connect with citizens’

    Despite their apparent ignorance, 49% said they would vote in favour with only 16% firmly against – mainly because they feared a loss of national sovereignty.

    The new constitution, approved by the EU last month, still faces a plebiscite in 10 countries, including the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

    More than 33% of those questioned said they had yet to make up their minds, with hesitation particularly high in the 10 countries where a vote will be held.

    Parliament in Lithuania and Hungary have already ratified the constitution, but a single “No” vote could stop it in its tracks.

    The Eurobarometer study aims to show that the more people know, the more they are likely to approve of the document.

    The treaty is an attempt to streamline EU decision-making, replacing vetoes in many areas with majority voting, except in foreign affairs, defence, social security, taxation and culture.

    Margot Wallstroem, European Commission vice-president, said: “The data for countries which will hold referenda shows a high level of indecision.

    “It may mean that there is a clear risk of a low turnout if campaigns are not able to connect with citizens.”

    The British government faces the toughest campaign of all, with the poll suggesting that 30% of its citizens are opposed to the European constitution, with only 20% in favour