NEWS28 October 2015

Brits feel less European than any other EU citizens

Europe News Trends UK

UK — As many as 64% of people in the UK deny feeling in any way European, the highest percentage of any country in the EU, according to a new report.


The report, Do we feel European and does it matter?, has been released by NatCen Social Research and is the second in a series of briefing papers exploring Britain’s relationship with the European Union in the run up to the referendum.

It analyses data from NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey and from the European Commission’s Eurobarometer survey to assess what role any feelings of national or supranational — i.e. transcending national boundaries or governments — identity might play in the vote.

The latest Eurobarometer survey, from May 2015, reveals that 64% of Brits do not feel European, compared with just 25% of people in Germany and 36% of people in France feeling the same way. The British Social Attitudes survey from 2014 suggests that just 15% of Brits freely choose to describe themselves as European. This shows little change from the 17% who described themselves that way in 1999.

“Relatively few people in Britain feel European, and this has been the case ever since Britain first joined the EU in 1973,” said Rachel Ormston, author of the report and head of Social Attitudes at NatCen Social Research. “But those who lack a European identity are divided in their views; just because we don’t feel European doesn’t necessarily mean we think we should leave the EU. While the low level of European identity provides an important backcloth to the campaign, in the end it is arguments about pragmatic considerations, such as the benefits to the economy of remaining in or leaving the EU, that are more likely to win the day.”