The view from the continent: what people in other member states think about the UK’s EU referendum

This project, which took place between October 2015 and March 2016, focused on public attitudes across different EU member states regarding the June 2016 referendum in the UK about its membership of the European Union.

The team carrying out the research comprised Dr Jan Eichhorn, Dr Daniel Kenealy and Christine Hübner from the University of Edinburgh School of Social and Political Science,  together with the German-based think tank d|part.
Professor John Curtice was also involved in this project. They conducted a comprehensive survey of respondents in six European member states (Ireland, Spain, Germany, France, Poland and Sweden) to assess public attitudes in those countries.

Questions in the survey addressed people’s attitudes towards the UK’s role in the EU, views on the position their respective governments should take in negotiations with the UK as well as opinions about how the UK should be engaged with if it were to choose to leave the European Union. In addition, respondents were asked to what extent they are satisfied with their ability to influence policies towards the EU in their own country and whether they would like to have the opportunity for such a referendum themselves.

Results from the survey were published in March 2016 and presented at open public events in Edinburgh, London, Brussels and Berlin.


The findings showed that nearly half of Germans surveyed were in favour of a post-Brexit UK staying in this trading bloc, but only a quarter of French respondents agreed.

People in Poland and Ireland were also sympathetic with 50 per cent and 41 per cent respectively backing continued trade in the single market – but most Swedes who were questioned remain undecided.

Report author Dr Jan Eichhorn said: “The upcoming EU referendum provides an opportunity to engage with people’s views on the UK and their involvement in the EU across the whole continent. Our survey shows a willingness to reform the EU, but less so for an individual country to gain exceptional treatment.”

Read the full report of the survey findings.

View the presentations of the findings which were shown at the dissemination events. 

View the methods note from this research.

View the three briefings based on the findings from this project:

What makes voters want their own EU referendum?

Who wants their own country to remain in the EU- and who would like the UK to stay?

Does knowledge of the EU matter?

Related to this work, Professor John Curtice presented ‘How deep and distinctive is Britain’s Euroscepticism?’

Policy relevance:
The findings from the research will be very insightful for policy makers in other EU member states in informing them about the attitudes of their publics, but the results will also have great relevance for those involved in campaigns for and against the UK’s membership in the European Union.


Jan Eichhorn

Daniel Kenealy

Christine Hübner

There was extensive media coverage related to this project – you can view this here.