The Belgian MEP acknowledged the results showed that a majority of citizens are disappointed with the bloc as it is today. But Mr clung to the result that saw a majority of respondents believing Europe needs more co-operation.
The latest Eurobarometer published this week revealed that just 23 percent of all EU27 citizens surveyed chose: “I’m in favour of the European Union as it has been realised so far” – a drop of four percent compared with the previous survey.
For some countries, the results were even worse – in Italy and Greece for example, just 15 percent of respondents chose the option.
Just six percent were optimistic about the bloc’s future, with almost half – 49 percent – thinking it was going in the wrong direction.
There was further bad news in relation to the bloc’s much-criticised coronavirus response.
Only 48 percent of EU citizens were satisfied with the measures taken by Brussels, with less than half even knowing what the EU has been doing about it.
Just 44 percent of EU citizens were satisfied with the degree of cooperation between member states in combating Covid.
When asked about what the EU should prioritise in tackling this crisis, nearly 40 percent of EU citizens identified rapid access to safe and effective vaccines as the most crucial issue.
Meanwhile 29 percent said the EU should put more money into the development of treatments and vaccines.
There were also no questions related to the impact of Britain’s decision to quit the bloc, despite the UK having represented 13 percent of its population and having contributed 15 percent of its GDP.
A press release commenting on the results and issued by the European Commission last week said: “Eight out of ten respondents know what the EU is doing to tackle the pandemic’s consequences, while citizens put public health, the fight against poverty, supporting the economy and jobs as well as tackling climate change at the top of their priorities for the European Parliament.
“Overall, the European Parliament’s spring Eurobarometer survey shows robust support for the European Union as well as broad consensus that global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic are best tackled at EU level.”
A total of 26,999 EU citizens from 27 EU countries were interviewed between March 16 and April 12 for the Eurobarometer survey.
“Citizens are disappointed with the European Union institutions after the pandemic, but they still believe strongly in European cooperation.
“This is why the Conference on the Future of Europe is so important.
“Destroy the EU, never!
“Reform the EU, so it can act, absolutely!”
His comments sparked the fury of social media users who took to Twitter to respond to the Belgian politician.
One person said: “And cooperation happened before and will continue to happen after your superstate.
“Europe is not the EU!”
And another: “People believe in cooperation, not in German exploitation and domination.”
Someone else added: “Even the UK believed in European cooperation but not Federalism!”
Another user said: “There is no future for Europe while the EU cartel bullies try to continue with their failed political project.”
Finally, someone lashed out: “Eurocrats are spiteful, threatening, bitter and hostile towards anyone who seeks to leave them, yet claim to be democratic?!
“Look how the EU is now treating Switzerland.
“The anti-democratic EU ignored Danish, Dutch, Irish, French, Greek referendum results against EU treaties.
“I respect democracy so if other Europeans are happy in the EU then that’s their democratic choice.
“But I’m sceptical of the honesty and accuracy of the pie charts shown by Verhofstadt given the large rise of Eurosceptic party votes in nations such as France and Finland, etc.”