Danes are more ambivalent towards the internal market
Summary Freedom of movement for labour is a founding principle of the EU. The EU defines the single market by the four freedoms of movement of people, goods, services and capital.
The recent Eurobarometer survey from June 2014 shows that Danes view freedom of movement as one of the EU’s greatest successes, next to peace in Europe. However, they have doubts about the usefulness of the single market for Danish growth and labour markets. This is evident in a new poll conducted by YouGov in October 2014 for Think Tank EUROPA.
The poll shows that only 37 percent of the Danish population believes that the single market has been of benefit to Danish growth and employment. Almost one in five are critical towards the single market and a good quarter says that they think the single market is neither positive nor negative for Danish economy. In short, they are undecided.
This Danish indecision has emerged in a media context where the political discussion has evolved around welfare benefits for citizens from EU countries other than Denmark. It would appear that the rhetoric around labour migration and the fear of welfare tourism has made Danes more hesitant towards the single market. This is happening even though the single market is essential to Danish economy, including growth and labour markets.
- The Danes have become lukewarm in their estimations of the value of the single market to the Danish economy.
- 18 percent of respondents think that the single market has a negative or very negative influence on Danish growth and employment. 37 percent consider the single market as a positive or very positive influence on the Danish economy.
- Education, income and degree of attachment to the labour market determine whether Danes consider the single market as being beneficial to Danish growth and employment.
- 24 percent answer that they view the single market as having a neither positive nor negative influence on Danish growth and labour markets. Compared to previous polls the share of this ambivalence has risen significantly.
- Danish hesitation correlates with a hard political rhetoric on the freedom of movement of workers – a cornerstone of the single market.
- Increasingly, the public debate links the single market with social benefits and the fear of welfare tourism. This rhetoric was prevalent in the media coverage of the European Parliament elections at the end of May this year.