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Malta most positive about future of EU

Positivity about the future and the state of the European Union may not be at a high-point right now – except, according to a recent survey, in Malta, which stands out as a pinprick of optimism amid the gloom.

Nearly two-thirds of Maltese people surveyed in a recent Europe-wide report on the condition of the EU believed the country was moving in the right direction. This was the highest rate in Europe.

In stark contrast, pessimists were in the majority in 20 countries, and across Europe, nearly two-thirds of those asked claimed that things were going in the wrong direction.

Project-28, conducted by Hungarian think tank Századvég Foundation and polling firm Millward Brown, polled more than 28,000 EU citizens (1,000 in Malta) between January and February of this year. The study aimed to assess how global challenges, including migration and terrorism, had affected public opinion across Europe.

Not surprisingly, only one in five Maltese said they would sign a petition for Malta to leave the EU. Across Europe, this figure was 26 per cent

Local respondents were among the most optimistic on a large number of issues: just under half of Maltese people felt the EU was doing a good or excellent job handling the immigration crisis (compared to the EU average of just 19 per cent), and 82 per cent gave a similar assessment of its handling of the economy.

These two figures were the highest in Europe.

Three-quarters felt the EU was doing a good job in maintaining European values, and 63 per cent (second only to Romania) said it was doing enough to fight terrorism and prevent more terrorist attacks in Europe, compared to the EU average of 45 per cent.

Not surprisingly, only one in five Maltese said they would sign a petition for the country to leave the EU. Across Europe, this figure was 26 per cent.

On migration, however, Malta showed a far more negative outlook than many other countries, including those who have been hit far worse by the crisis in recent years.

Asked whether Europe should do more to protect its external borders, a staggering 94 per cent said it should, while 69 per cent – well above the EU average – said they would support the “building of a fence” to protect Malta’s own borders.

Overall, concern over the impact of immigration was the highest in Europe, with nine out of 10 respondents describing it as a serious problem.

More than two-thirds also believed immigration would lead to an increase in crime and terrorism.

Moreover, 74 per cent said a Paris-style attack was likely to happen in Malta, despite a complete lack of direct terrorist threats.

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