The Washington-based Pew Research Center interviewed 10,000 people across Europe.Their answers showed that skepticism over the EU is not confined to Britain.France views the bloc even more unfavorably than its neighbor across the English Channel, with just 38 percent of people having a positive opinion of the EU, compared to 69 percent in 2004.In Spain, approval of the EU has fallen from 80 percent to 47 percent.A British vote to leave the EU could lead to demands for similar referendums across the continent.
“However, whether or not they'll succeed depends upon, one, what happens to the UK.If the UK struggles, then that sets quite a powerful message to the rest of the European Union.”
“And secondly, it depends on what happens in the Eurozone, it depends what happens in Schengen, it depends what happens with Russia.The European Union faces several crises at the moment, and Britain is one of them.”
A British divorce from the EU would likely be lengthy and bitter, says Oliver.
“The rest of the European Union is lacking to either punish the United Kingdom for withdrawing, so there has to be an economic cost.The UK can't withdraw and not feel any punishment, any costs and so forth, and get a new relationship with the EU, or else that might encourage other member states to do the same thing.”
Pew researchers said much of the disapproval of the EU is related to its handling of the refugee crisis.
Over a million migrants arrived in Greece in 2015; disapproval of Brussels' migrant policies there runs at 94 percent.A simultaneous so-called Brexit crisis could push Europe to the brink.
“They haven't solved each crisis, they've just managed to cope and move on, and hope they'll find a solution later on.If several crises align at the same time, that puts the EU in uncharted territory, and that is quite dangerous.”
Former British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned Wednesday that a British exit could sow wider division.
“If we lift our eyes from our local concerns to the challenges coming our way within this continent and from beyond it, then the risks of leaving are too great.Above all, the danger of a divided, fractured and weakened West is one we must do our utmost to avoid.”
With disapproval of the EU growing across the continent, analysts say a British exit could have much wider consequences for Europe and beyond.