Attitudes toward EU are largely positive, both within Europe and outside it

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The FINANCIAL — The European Union is viewed favorably across much of the world, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

A median of 58% of adults across 33 surveyed countries have a favorable opinion of the EU, while just 27% hold an unfavorable view. In the 19 non-EU countries surveyed, attitudes are also positive, with a median of 51% expressing a favorable view and 25% reporting an unfavorable opinion (though a significant proportion of respondents in some countries offer no opinion).

Central and Eastern Europeans tend to express the most enthusiasm toward the EU: Across six countries in the region, positive ratings outweigh negative ones by more than three-to-one (a median of 74% vs. a median of 23%).

People in Poland (84%) and Lithuania (83%) are especially positive, giving the two highest ratings for the EU of all countries included in the study. Enthusiasm is more tempered in the Czech Republic, though 52% of Czechs still rate the EU favorably.

Western Europeans largely see the Brussels-based institution positively. Across the eight Western European nations surveyed, a median of 62% give the EU favorable marks.

While still generally positive, sizable shares in France (47%), the UK (44%) and Greece (44%) hold unfavorable views of the EU. In fact, people in these three nations are as negative or more negative toward the EU than people in Russia, where 44% have an unfavorable view.

Outside of Europe itself, the most positive views of the union are in South Korea and the Philippines, where 80% and 70% of adults, respectively, have a favorable view. Majorities in Japan (60%) and Australia (58%) also look favorably on the EU, though the share with a positive opinion is lower in Indonesia (45%, with another 33% offering no opinion).

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In Ukraine, which the EU considers a priority partner, 79% are positive toward the EU despite their country not being a member. Ukrainians who speak only Ukrainian at home (88%) are most favorable toward the EU, though those who speak only Russian (71%) or both Ukrainian and Russian at home (74%) still hold overwhelmingly positive views.

In Turkey, which has been in accession talks with the EU and its predecessor organization since 1987, just 34% have a favorable view. A majority of Turks (56%) hold an unfavorable view, the highest share among all countries surveyed. Turkish adults expressed this opinion after the European Parliament took a nonbinding vote to freeze Turkey’s membership talks in March of this year, but prior to EU members suspending arms exports to Turkey in the wake of Turkish military actions in Syria. The survey was conducted before Turkey’s recent incursion into northern Syria.

In the Middle East more broadly, at least half of publics in Lebanon, Israel and Tunisia view the EU favorably. Though most Israelis see the EU in a positive light, a sizable minority (43%) rate the institution unfavorably. And while Israeli Jews are split in their views (47% favorable and 47% unfavorable), Israeli Arabs show much more positivity (66% favorable vs. 26% unfavorable).

Views of the EU are, on balance, positive in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, where four-in-ten or more rate the institution favorably. Roughly one-in-five or more in each of the African nations surveyed, however, decline to give an opinion.

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