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Most Brits want to stay in EU: poll

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The Union Flag flies next to the European Flag outside the European Commission building in central London in this file photograph dated May 25, 2014. An overwhelming majority of young Brits want to remain within the EU, a new poll showed Tuesday, adding that as the euro crisis fades support for European integration is rebounding.

[WASHINGTON] An overwhelming majority of young Brits want to remain within the EU, a new poll showed Tuesday, adding that as the euro crisis fades support for European integration is rebounding.

After reaching a low point two years ago in the wake of the economic crisis, the popularity of the European Union is growing again despite the rise of Euroskeptic parties, the Pew Research Centre said.

Based on interviews of 6,028 people in six key EU countries - Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain - the survey found that an average 61 per cent of people remained in favour of the 28-nation club.

That was up nine points from 2013. And 46 per cent of those surveyed said European economic integration had helped strengthen their economies.

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"To be clear, most European publics surveyed still think economic conditions in their countries are lousy. And in many nations they are," the Pew survey, conducted between April 7 to May 13, said.

"But the economic downturn appears to have bottomed out in most places, and there are signs of recovery, particularly in Spain and the United Kingdom."

Even though public opinion about the economy appears to have improved across Europe, many people remain pessimistic about the future.

Significantly, as newly re-elected British Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to make good on a campaign promise to hold a referendum by 2017 on the country's membership of EU, he may draw some comfort from the poll's results.

"British enthusiasm for leaving the EU has been declining ever since Cameron made his pledge," the survey said.

In 2013, Britons were divided on the issue with 46 per cent wanting to leave, and 46 per cent wanting to stay within the European fold.

This year, more than half (55 per cent) said they wanted to remain within the EU. And the figure was startlingly high among young people.

If a vote were held today some 69 per cent of those aged 18-29 said they would choose to stay in the EU.

Even the growth of Euroskeptic parties was not greeted with much concern, Pew said.

"Even as the mood in Europe brightens, the euro crisis has left a challenging political legacy: the rise of Euroskeptic political parties on both the left and the right."

But an average of 54 per cent of people polled said such "non-traditional political parties are good for their country because they raise important issues that are ignored by traditional ones."

AFP

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