7th Wave of the BRIE (November 2004)

7th Wave of the BRIE (November 2004)


The Centre for Sociological Research (Centro de Investigaciones Sociol?gicas ?CIS?) and the Elcano Royal Institute for International and Strategic Studies present the report ?Spanish people?s opinions and attitudes towards the Constitutional Treaty and the process of European Union integration?, in a seventh wave (this time, unlike previous editions, monographic) of the Barometer of the Elcano Royal Institute (BRIE).

The importance of the referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty, which will be held in Spain on 20 February 2005 and which represents a fundamental landmark in the process of European integration, warranted the joint collaboration of the CIS and the Elcano Royal Institute.

The survey was conducted between 8 and 12 November among 2,400 respondents nationwide, and the sample?s overall deviation was +2.00%.

The highlights of the report are as follows:

?        Most Spaniards are in favour of a referendum.

?        They are not familiar with the Constitutional Treaty.

?        They think the Treaty is good for Europe.

?        They also think the Constitutional Treaty is good for Spain and positive to its autonomous regions.

?        The overall support for the Treaty does not preclude a certain degree of scepticism.

?        The support shown is due to Spaniards? profound pro-Europeanism.

?        ?Yes? to Europe but ?No? to Europe becoming a military superpower.

?        France and Germany are Spain?s main European allies.

?        With regard to future enlargement, the door is open for Russia, but not for Turkey.

  • Spaniards are largely in favour of a referendum…

Spaniards are overwhelmingly (83%) in favour of there being a referendum. Indeed, from July to November of this year, support for the referendum increased by over 10 points, from 72% to 83%.

  • … Although they are not familiar with the Constitutional Treaty

84% of Spaniards assert that they do not know the content of the European Constitution: 60% say they have little knowledge of it and 24% say they have none at all.

Furthermore, one out of every two Spaniards (44%) say they do not even know the position of their political party in regard to the Treaty.

  • The Treaty is good for Europe

Notwithstanding the above, Spaniards? strong pro-Europeanism leads them to value the Treaty in a highly positive light, despite not knowing its contents. The majority (58%) think that the Treaty is good for Europe.

It is widely believed that the Treaty is a step forward in the process of integration (75%) and that it will serve to uphold peace and prosperity in Europe (67%). Only 27% consider that it reinforces the ?Europe of Capital? vs. the ?Social Europe?.

  • It is also good for Spain

At the same time, the majority believe that the Treaty is also good for Spain (55%).

Why is it good? People believe that the Treaty will give Spain more possibilities to develop economically and politically (60%).

And, specifically at the institutional level, most Spaniards also believe that Spain?s political weighting will not be undermined as a result of the new Treaty.

  • Beneficial to Spain?s autonomous regions

Spaniards consider that the Constitution will also prove positive for Spain?s autonomous regions, which will be afforded better chances to develop both economically and politically, and even in terms of culture and identity (approximately 50% of Spaniards believe so). Only 20% of those surveyed think that the Constitution does not recognise the identity of European peoples.

There is no doubt that in Catalonia and the Basque Country there is greater demand for recognition by Europe of the identity and culture of European peoples, although the rest of Spain also goes some way in supporting these demands. Thus, the clear majority of Spaniards (59%) claim to be in favour of recognition by Europe of Spain?s official languages, a demand that is almost unanimous in Catalonia (84%) and the Basque Country (81%).

  • The critical ?yes?

General support to the Treaty does not preclude a certain degree of scepticism:

o       Among Popular Party (PP) voters, because a significant number believe that Spain?s political weighting will be undermined.

o       Among the electorate of the United Left (IU), because the Treaty would consecrate the liberal Europe, the ?Europe of Capital?, vs. the ?Social Europe?.

o       Among nationalist party bases, since they do not see their differentiating characteristics as sufficiently recognised.

Among Popular Party and nationalist voters these reservations translate into fewer favourable votes and lower participation rates than those of the Socialist Party (PSOE) electorate. One out of every two PSOE voters are in favour, and only 30% undecided, whereas among the voter base of the PNV (Basque nationalists) or ERC (Catalan nationalists) the percentage of rejection or indecision (50% in both electorates) exceeds the percentage of support (40% and 31%, respectively).

  • Support responds to Spaniards? profound pro-Europeanism

The widespread support for the Constitution, despite the above nuances, is based on Spaniards? strong pro-Europeanism.

Europe must be the pivotal axis of Spain?s foreign policy: one out of every two Spaniards (46%) believes that Europe should take priority. In a distant second place are Latin America and the United States (which draw at 10%).

Furthermore, Spaniards are in favour of extending the EU?s competencies at almost all levels: immigration policy (78%), common foreign policy (76%), European police (72%) and fiscal harmonisation (58%). Likewise, most are also in favour of a common European government (65%), although in a different context one out of every two Spaniards (55%) also believe that ?EU member states must always have the final word?.

  • Europe yes, but not a superpower

Due to the marked pacifism of Spanish people, the only aspect which arouses some suspicion is the military one. Although 62% of Spaniards are in favour of common European armed forces, 40% are against increasing European defence spending to enhance the EU?s international weighting, and 34% are against the deployment of soldiers in international actions by the EU.

In this regard, it is worth noting that only 27% want Europe to become a power to counterbalance the United States and this is because two out of every three Spaniards (65%) reject the very idea of a superpower, whether American or European.

  • France and Germany, Spain?s main European allies

Within Europe, France (51%) and Germany (42%) are considered to be Spain?s closest allies, followed at some distance by Portugal and Italy (18%).

In any event, despite this affinity with the two European powers, most Spaniards would like to see a Europe without leading players, where all member states have the same power of influence in decisions (69%).

  • Yes to Russia, no to Turkey

Finally, in regard to future enlargement, the door is open only to Russia (58%), whereas it is closed for Turkey (44%), and needless to say for Morocco (25%) and Israel (21%).

It is worth noting that the public debate on whether or not it is advisable to welcome Turkey into the EU has seen Spaniards? initial support (56% in May) dwindle into rejection.