July 7, 2015

5 facts about Greece and the EU

Greek and EU Flags
(Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

The people of Greece spoke decisively on Sunday, voting 61% to 39% to reject financial bailout terms called for by its creditors, but the country’s fraught relationship with the European Union faces critical hurdles in the coming days.

While Greece deals with a major debt crisis and uncertain future in the eurozone, public opinion in Greece and elsewhere in Europe had shown clear signs of tension leading up to this point. Many European nations were hit hard by the recession, but Greece has been slower to recover, and its people have felt frustrated by persistently high unemployment and steep austerity measures imposed on them.

Most Greeks polled in 2014 didn’t express particularly warm views of the EU. And public sentiment showed that many in other European nations harbor negative stereotypes of Greeks.

Here are five facts, based on public opinion in recent years, to understand the relationship between Greece and the EU:

1Greeks have had little regard for the EU. Only about a third of Greeks have a positive view of the EU, according to a spring 2014 Pew Research Center survey. At that time, just 17% agreed that European economic integration had been good for their country.

2Despite their frustrations with the EU, and in the face of speculation that the current financial crisis could lead Greece to abandon the common European currency, 69% of Greeks want to keep the euro and not return to the drachma, our survey last year found.

3Greeks felt abandoned by their EU partners well before the current crisis. An overwhelming majority of Greeks (85%) said in 2014 that the EU does not understand the needs of its citizens. And 74% judged as inadequate the financial assistance the EU has provided to member countries, such as Greece, that are experiencing major financial problems.

Frustration with EU High Among Greeks in 2014

4Greeks oppose the EU’s meddling in Greek affairs. More than eight-in-ten Greeks (86%) said the EU is intruding in their country’s business, and two-thirds (67%) felt the union is inefficient. There’s little wonder, then, that 71% of Greeks last year opposed giving more decision-making power to the EU to deal with Europe’s economic problems.

5Europe StereotypesGreeks see themselves differently than others see them. Contradictory stereotypes may complicate any resolution of the new Greek crisis. Greeks see themselves as the most hardworking Europeans, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey. The British, the Germans, the Spanish, the Poles and the Czechs all see the Greeks as the least hardworking. And the Greeks see themselves as the most trustworthy of Europeans, while the French, the Germans and the Czechs voice the view that Greeks are the least trustworthy, according to a 2013 Pew Research survey.

This is an update of a post originally published on Jan. 27, 2015. 

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Europe, Economic Recession, International Governments and Institutions, World Economies

  1. Photo of Bruce Stokes

    is director of global economic attitudes at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Sara Kehaulani Goo

    is a senior digital editor at Pew Research Center.


  1. peter2 years ago

    Perhaps the crisis in Greece has its roots in the economic trashing of the American financial system by Wall St interlopers whose only interest is in their control of the world money markets. Wall St did have dealings with the Greek Government financially

  2. Muthyavan.2 years ago

    Many countries in EU and in world has gone through economic crisis during some time in the past history. But the economic crisis in Greece is hiting the EU and the world economy several time in recent time. It may due to lack of investment from other rich EU nations in Greece creating more jobs and reducing the increasing unemployment in Greece. Instead of lending huge money to balance economy in Greece , direct investment of leading EU manufacturing companies in Greece creating more jobs may help Greece to come out of the present difficulties.

    1. Mike2 years ago

      If companies are not investing in a country, there is probably a reason why. Perhaps part of it is the perception that Greeks are the least hard working in the EU? I’m sure there are other reasons, not the least of which is Greece seems unable to get their financial house in order and clean up corruption.

      1. Alexandros Apostolidis2 years ago

        According to data from EuroStat and OSCE, Greeks are the most hardworking people in Europe. I expect businesses to control the official data and not be based upon faulty stereotypes.
        Also, our corruption is 90% imported by Germany, who also protects the corruptors from Greek courts – Siemens, military equipment, Deutshce Bank and Goldman Sachs, privatizations at prices lower that the annual income of the enterprise etc.
        The real reason why foreign investors dont come to Greece is the huge taxation that the troika has imposed and the constant instability that the foreign technocrats have brought about. Additional reasons are the lack of innovation and R&D and the complex bureaucracy.
        The country needed better infrastructure and modern administration, not less public spending and more taxes, this is the real reason of the crisis, alongside the absence of an efficient system of redistribution of resources that would balance the decrease of competitiveness that the adoption of the euro resulted to.

        1. Aggressor Viper-Driver2 years ago

          The key word is “infrastructure”. Forget, all the other garbage. Compared to “infrastructure” it is meaningless. “Infrastructure” provides income. “Infrastructure” employs people. “Infrastructure” creates a GDP.

          Varoufakis the clown, says this bail-out loan will fail, as well as the Greek economy. He’s correct, though he has no idea what he’s doing, and he’s an incompetent idiot. It will fail, but not for the reasons Varoufakis claims. It will fail because Greece has no infrastructure. It’s banks are 60 years behind modern banking technology. It’s business practices are 100 years behind modern business practices.

          No investor, or business, will invest in Greece. I’m a retired owner, and CEO of several U.S. international corporations. Two of which are well known internationally. I still own a manufacturing plant in China. I attempted to bring a pharmaceutical manufacturing business to Greece. We are FDA certified, and it should have been a breeze. Forget it, after one year of useless paperwork I trashed the project. I was dealing with nothing but gross stupidity in the Greek regulating agencies. Simply put. If Bill Gates, of MicroSoft, or Steve Jobs, of Apple, had attempted to start either of those businesses in Greece………………..it would have never happened.

          Greece operates on an extinct business marketing strategy, which is a national marketing strategy, instead of a global marketing strategy.

          Massive reforms in Greece’s business laws are required, or Greece is doomed.

  3. JAMES BYRNE2 years ago

    Surely it cannot be that the Italians view themselves as the “least trustworthy”! I suppose it could be the legacy of the Mafia and its penetration of the institutions of the state.

    1. pik2 years ago

      as italian I see it as possible if we consider a nation being trustworthy or not because of the actions and sayings of its politicians. Corruption is very high and disillusion for the politics is also very high, especially in the young. Ironically, mafia is probably considered more trustworthy than the state and its representatives.

  4. Thiomas Grzymala2 years ago

    This article is most informative and reflects how citizens of the world view our current economic debacle. The table at #5. is frightening. No one in the world is ready to help Greece salvage itself. This situation and the broadcast news that the China yuan will be adopted by the IMF as a world currency, perhaps seriously damaging America’s place in the world market. American MUST demand more from our elected disinterested officials.They can begin by reading their job responsibilities and carrying them out. As a retired Navy officer I fear for my country. Mr. Jefferson is probably rolling over in his Monticello grave, Look what we’ve done to the land of the free and the home of the brave since this century dawned.

  5. Steven T2 years ago

    So in other words, the Greeks who have received hundreds of millions in bailout funding now are biting the very hands that feed them? Why should the rest of the EU keep throwing good money after bad?

    1. James L2 years ago

      What bailout, oh you mean the EU Bank Bailout that was imposed on Greeks which prevented contagion to the other financial markets. It’s a well known fact that only 10% of the Bailout went to the Greek State.

    2. Paul2 years ago

      The Greek people received virtually none of the billions lent; it has all gone to pay private French and German banks. Meanwhile 6 years of imposed austerity has shrunk the Greek economy by 25 percent and created unemployment of over 27 percent–and over 50 percent for youth, who are now leaving Greece for work and creating a serious brain drain. And still Germany wants more austerity in exchange for more loans which will primarily go to service the debt…now do you see how Greece is in a no – win situation? How can it grow it’s economy in these circumstances? This is why they have been fighting for debt restructuring and less austerity, to get their economy moving again, but their arguments have been falling on deaf European ears. Even the IMF has finally admitted that austerity does not work.

  6. Jesusaurus Rex2 years ago

    One has to realized that BOTH the leading parties of Greece has been part in destroying the economy, they BOTH spent the last 30 years buying votes with unfinanced entitlement reforms, and they BOTH have a vested interest in shifting the blame elsewhere.
    Imagine what the US or UK population would think about an issue where both conservatives and liberals and all their beholden media wanted to shift the blame elsewhere.
    Except Britons don’t have to imagine, as it is exactly what’s happened there too, and the reason the UK will vote for exit from the EU.

    The one way the EU now could prevent other populist countries from exiting the EU, is to make an example of Greece. No more loans, instead kick it out and close the borders. Let it crash and burn, and make it perfectly clear that the same policy will be applied to the UK and any other country which leaves the union.

    1. Paul2 years ago

      Your point is moot since the US and GB both have their own sovereign currency, so they can devalue when they need to…if Greece had this option, it wouldn’t be in the terrible situation it is in right now, but it is locked into the euro.

      1. DerMazi2 years ago

        Paul, I don’t think you have really any idea about the system or what has happened within EU. Greece can leave Euro, but they can’t be kicked out. They would need to leave it and the other member would need to agree. Also your upper post is showing a strange opinion about what has happened here in the last few months.
        The problem of Greece is and always was that they don’t want to change their system. Even many Greek people living outside Greece say that the problems are self made. The money had to be given because Greece had spent much more than they could afford and they still do even after the (in many places truly silly) austerities. BUT no one forced Greece how to spend the money or not collecting long overdue tax, etc. And in the last weeks before the completely distructive voting all that was demanded was a primary plus which would not even be enough if you go to a bank for a loan as a private person.
        I would have understood Tsipras and Varovakis if they had made ANY changes in their laws or ways of spending the billions given to them. But they did nothing but moneylender bashing, making the situation worse in their own country. There are 73 billion Euro of debts in tax within Greece. They could have collected that and won’t have needed anything. They could have changed savings in pensions by increasing the really low ones and decreasing only the really high ones. This would have been a “socialistic” way but none of those big leaders did.
        But the big problem Greece now faces is that all other countries in EU who had or have problems accepted austerities (again, many silly and short sighted, no doubt) and changed, but Greece refused for 5 years and even turned back some of the few changes now with the actual government. None of those countries will agree to anything like a special help for Greece as they would feel cheated. Debt restructuring only makes sense if you can see there is a mental and structural change that makes one trust that the money will be paid back at some time. And Varovakis never argumented, you should read his lectures 🙂

  7. fred sanford2 years ago

    America should watch closely. This is what happens when your debtors come to collect.

    Imagine a $4 trillion federal budget cut in half but with taxes remaining the same, and the largest employer in the nation cutting its workforce in half: the federal government.

    Imagine not Congress but foreigners demanding it and controlling it, and your reaction to that.

    It would take decades and a cataclysmic social paradigm shift to fix, if it could be fixed.

  8. Olivier2 years ago

    How can germany be both most and least trustworthy according to poland. What kind of chart is this ???

    1. David2 years ago

      The British, the Germans, the Spanish, the Poles and the Czechs all see the Greeks as the least hardworking

      So, someone screwed up the copy pasta.

    2. Sara Kehaulani Goo2 years ago

      Yes, many people have pointed that out. Each question was asked separately. The country shown is the country that had the highest share, as named by the respondents polled in each country. In this case, the largest share of people in Poland named Germany when asked which EU nation is most likely to be named most trustworthy. And when asked about which EU nation is most likely to be named least trustworthy, the largest share of people in Poland also named Germany.

      See Q44a & Q44b here: pewglobal.org/files/2013/05/Pew-…

    3. Dave Thomas2 years ago

      I propose revising the chart as follows. Please note the additional column

      Views in: Most Confused
      Britain: Poland
      France: Poland
      Germany: Greece
      Italy: Poland
      Poland: Poland
      Greece: Poland