BERLIN: A large majority of Germans do not want to hand more powers to the EU, according to a poll published today that underlined unease about a closer European fiscal and political union championed by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But the Forsa poll also showed surprisingly strong support for the beleaguered euro currency despite widespread German resentment at having to bail out heavily indebted member countries like Greece.
Just under three quarters of Germans were against the idea of a United States of Europe under which Berlin would cede more sovereignty to EU institutions, while 59 percent opposed handing budgetary powers to Brussels.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed much tighter fiscal and political ties between member states of the European Union as an essential precondition for any mutualisation of debt - a key demand of struggling southern countries such as Italy.
Voters in Germany, Europe’s paymaster and its biggest economy, are fed up with shelling out billions of euros to prevent countries like Greece defaulting on their debts.
Merkel was mauled in the German media for caving in to pressure from Spain and Italy at last week’s EU summit and agreeing to allow the euro zone rescue fund to inject aid
directly into stricken banks and intervene on bond markets.
More than two thirds of those canvassed in the Forsa poll opposed joint euro zone debt liability, or euro bonds. A similar percentage said Germany should hold a referendum if more powers were shifted to Brussels, according to the poll, conducted on June 27 and 28, just before last week’s EU summit.
Some senior politicians, including Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, have said a referendum would be needed to give legitimacy to further political and fiscal union in Europe. This would be the first referendum in Germany since World War II.
Despite the debt crisis and bailout-fatigue, 54 percent of those surveyed believed the establishment of the euro was a good thing.