Eurosceptic Union: 6 key reasons why so many have gripe with EU

The Parliament's hemicycle (debating chamber) during a plenary session in Strasbourg © Wikipedia
On Thursday, Britain voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union, highlighting many people’s dissatisfaction with their 43-year-long relationship. The British are not the only ones who have a gripe with the union, though.

In the wake of the Brexit referendum result, Eurosceptic politicians in other EU states have mooted the idea of holding their own membership referendums, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged action is needed to stem any further exodus.

READ MORE: Auxit, Frexit, Nexit? EU countries may hold referendums following 'Brexit' vote

A report from the Pew Research Center on Global Attitudes and Trends carried out prior to the Brexit referendum found that 47 percent of people polled across 10 EU states (not including the UK) had unfavorable attitudes towards the Union.

EU favorability varies widely in Europe

So why do people hate the EU?

1 The Economic Crisis

Anti-austerity protesters gather in front of the parliament during a rally in Athens © Jean-Paul Pelissier

Many EU countries were hit badly by the 2008 recession and were less than satisfied with the EU’s economic governance before and during the downturn. They hold the EU responsible for the economic crisis that left people penalized by anti-austerity measures and high unemployment.

Only citizens of Germany and Poland approved of the EU’s handling of the area’s economy, according to the Spring 2016 Pew Research Center survey.

Europeans generally disapprove of EU’s handling of economy

2 Immigration and the Refugee Crisis

A migrant hits a former shelter with a stick in a dismantled area of the camp known as the "Jungle", a squalid sprawling camp in Calais, northern France, January 17, 2016. © Pascal Rossignol

More than 1 million migrants, including refugees and people displaced by violence, arrived in the EU in 2015. More than 223,000 have undertaken the perilous journey across the Mediterranean so far this year.

The EU’s handling of the refugee crisis has been widely criticized by human rights activists and humanitarian workers, and has been met with the emergence of far right anti-immigration parties in several EU states.

All the EU countries surveyed by Pew on this issue had overwhelming majorities expressing their dissatisfaction in how the EU has dealt with the crisis.

Overwhelming majorities unhappy with EU’s handling of refugees

3 Lack of clarity

In the wake of the Brexit result, it transpired that many in Britain knew little about the EU and its institutions. “What is the EU?” was the second most-searched term on Google in the UK after the results came through on Friday morning, suggesting that many potential voters were apparently unaware of the scope of EU bodies.

READ MORE: 'What's EU?' Post-Brexit Google stats imply UK voters were clueless at polls

4 Onerous regulations

The EU is seen as a strict parent which takes the joy out of everything. The ‘bendy banana’ became a symbol of the Brexit Leave campaign when they declared the EU were banning bendy bananas from being imported to the UK.

This was not quite the case, but an EU regulation does classify bananas according to their shape - and the best ones must be "free from malformation or abnormal curvature."

5 A maze of bureaucracy

© Google Maps

With myriad agencies and the imposition of wide-ranging regulations on industries and products, many people view the EU as a world of bureaucracy.

One point of contention and near-derision among some EU critics is the money and effort that goes into the translation of documents. The European Commission has a permanent staff of 1,750 linguists and 600 interpreters, and it hires thousands more as freelance interpreters. All public documents and minutes of all high level public meetings are translated into each of the Union’s 24 official and working languages. It’s estimated translation costs come to around €330m a year.

Another issue is the running of EU operations themselves. Thousands of EU workers relocate from Brussels to Strasbourg once a month so the parliament can meet in full session. The 751 seat parliament can’t even propose legislation and many of the big decisions are made away from the eye of the media.

6 Wasting money

People are also critical of EU spending on apparently pointless projects. A report issued by auditors in 2014 slammed the EU for spending millions of euros between 2000 to 2013 on investments in airport infrastructure that were not needed. The report found only half of the funded airports actually needed the money.

Other more bizarre projects which have been panned by critics include EU funding for a virtual citizens’ office in Sweden in 2008 and Donkeypedia - an internet blog by a donkey in the Netherlands which received €7.6m from Brussels as part of an initiative to promote a 'year of intercultural dialogue'.

During the Brexit campaign the Leave camp claimed the EU auditors had not signed off on the accounts for years. The auditors say they have signed off on accounts since 2007 - but they’ve consistently found errors in how the money was paid out since 1995.