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Support for EU membership hits record high in Finland

As Brexit plays out, Finns' desire for an EU departure or "Fixit" has reached an all-time low.

EU-lippu salossa.
Supporters of the parties seeking to form Finland's new government tend to be pro-EU. Image: Patrick Seeger / EPA

More people in Finland back EU membership than ever, according to a survey published by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (Eva) on Thursday, which is observed as Europe Day.

The poll, carried out by Taloustutkimus, indicates that 56 percent of Finnish residents have a positive view of EU membership while only 13 percent see it negatively. The rest, nearly one in three respondents, are neutral on the issue.

The business think-tank has gauged Finns' attitudes on the EU since 1988 – seven years before the country joined the Union. The positive rating in the latest survey was the highest ever, while the negative rating was the lowest ever. The current 56-13 ratio has only been approached once before, in 2012 when the ratio was 55-20.

Finns Party, Christian Dems most eurosceptic

Anti-EU feelings were at their highest – 35 percent – in 2000 and 2007, according to similar polls.

As the UK's chaotic Brexit process plays out, Finnish respondents' desire for a "Fixit" or departure from the EU has hit a rock-bottom level of 14 percent.

The biggest increase in EU popularity since the turn of the millennium has been among supporters of the Centre, SDP and Left Alliance parties, which are among those now seeking to form a new government coalition.

There are only two parties where a majority of supporters take a negative view of the EU: the Finns Party and the Christian Democrats, both of which appear to be heading into the opposition for the next legislative term.

Young adults pro-EU

The highest levels of EU support is among backers of the conservative National Coalition Party, the Greens and the Swedish People's Party.

Men tend to be more pro-EU than women, and support rises along with respondents' level of education and socio-economic status. Respondents aged 18-25 reported the highest level of EU positivity.

The survey results are based on replies from just over 2,000 people aged 18-70 in January and February. Taloustutkimus estimates the margin of error at 2-3 percentage points.

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