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What you need to know about COVID-19: September 22, 2020
On Monday, the British polling and analytics firm YouGov published the results of a survey of 21,000 people in 14 European countries. These included 13 members of the European Union as well as that notorious defector, the United Kingdom. The overall goal was to try to read current public opinion about the EU. Do people think of it as mostly being about economics? Is it a strategic institution? Or does it exist to bathe the globe in the light of superior European moral principles?
It’s their business, no doubt, but there was one Canadian angle hidden amidst the charts. The interviewees were asked: “Imagine a country suffered some kind of major crisis, and was looking for help from others. Do you think (your country) should or should not be willing to offer financial help to each of the following countries?”
The hypothetical recipients of help included European countries, but a few wild cards far from Europe ― Colombia, Tunisia, India, Japan, Vietnam ― were thrown in. Canada was one of these, giving us a sort of measure of our net favourability rating, taking the “should help” numbers minus the “should not helps,” in the 14 countries surveyed.
So if a meteor hits us, and remember that 2020 ain’t over yet, which European countries would step up? Canada, it turns out, has two especially great friends in Europe: it will probably not be surprising to anyone that these are Britain (where our net rating was +36 per cent) and the ever-devoted Netherlands (+23). Canada ostensibly did almost as well with the Poles (+20) and the Danes (+19), but in the survey the Poles and the Danes were excessively generous all around.
By a similar token, the most hostile EU countries were Hungary (-25) and Finland (-22), which seems to suggest some kind of bizarre Finno-Ugric anti-Canadian consensus. On closer inspection, it turns out that Hungary and Finland are just grouchier than other countries about helping very distant fellow humans in trouble, if the survey is to be believed. They gave rather poor net ratings to all the non-Euro countries, and Hungary even gave Finland a -27.
If you try to correct for overall grumpiness, nothing really jumps out about Canada’s reputation in Europe, except possibly the divergence between our rating from the Germans ― we received a +18 from them, contrasting with their post-Brexit -13 for Britain ― and the one we got from the French, which was a mediocre -2. (The U.K. got rough treatment in France, too, scoring -25.) The full table hints that the French may be becoming more inward-looking and chauvinistic.
Like almost everyone else, to be sure, the French declare themselves strongly prepared to help near neighbours like Italy, Spain and Belgium. This overall effect seems quite intense in the table, which is good news, since countries that share borders are often supposed to despise each other the most and are the usual source of international strife. But it may be bad news for the EU project as a whole, since you can see that older divisions (Mediterranean, Nordic, Latin, maybe even “Teutonic”) die hard.
Also, stop me if this surprises you, but everybody in Europe is kinda ticked at the U.K. right now. Their mean “favourability” rating from the other 13 countries surveyed was -8, lower than anyone else’s with the exceptions of Tunisia and Colombia. The “willing to help” table and other findings from the survey can be found here .
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020