The Commission’s Eurobarometer poll revealed Italy is now at bottom of the list of countries who believe the EU has been beneficial to them, preceded by the UK with 53 percent of people interviewed supporting the work on the Brussels bloc.
The poll also puts Italy at the top of the list of countries who are indecisive of whether the Brussels bloc has benefited their country at all.
The survey – conducted by the European Commission on the future European Parliament elections – was based on more than 27000 people interviewed across the entire bloc.
In contrast with the Italian eurosceptic response, 67 percent of the respondents said their country had benefited from EU membership.
But despite significant and growing support for the EU in general, half of the respondents are not happy with the direction the EU is heading in, with a similar result regarding their own country. Public opinion also seems quite stable in terms of expectations about the role of the EU in the future, with 48 percent wanting the EU to play a more important role, as opposed to 27 percent preferring less.
The fieldwork of the survey was carried out between 8th and 26th September 2018 among 27474 Europeans aged 16 or more, interviewed face-to-face by Kantar Public in all 28 Member States.
Commenting on the results of the survey, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said: “As details of the UK’s withdrawal agreement are being finalised, these figures highlight growing appreciation of the benefits of EU membership across the continent.
“Nevertheless, there is much work to be done. Continued cooperation and solidarity at the EU level is essential in delivering answers to the concerns of ordinary European citizens.”
The poll comes as tensions continue to rise between Italy’s eurosceptic Government and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker over Italy’s latest budget proposals.
The Italian Cabinet signed off an expansionary 2019 budget on Monday, in which they set out goals to boost welfare spending and slash the retirement age.
But the proposals have set the nation up for a showdown with authorities in Brussels over compliance with EU rules.
The Italian government is targeting a budget deficit of 2.4percent in 2019.
While this is within the European Commission’s rules for budget deficits not to exceed three percent of GDP, it is still significantly higher than the 1.8 percent previously promised by the government.
Final approval of the spending plans has been delayed until this week, with government sources saying there were tensions between the ruling coalition parties over plans for a partial tax amnesty.
The Italian parliament voted in favour of the government’s deficit plan on Friday.
Speaking on Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte defended the spending plans as he described Italy as “an EU founder and a net contributor” in an attempt to downplay tensions.
He said: “Belonging to Europe is an essential part of the program to improve socio-economic conditions of Italians and Europeans.
“We are going to Brussels with a budget we are proud of and on which we want to dialogue without prejudice. Austerity is no longer viable.”
He added it was essential for Italy “to reduce the growth gap with the EU by focusing spending towards balance and stability”.
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini also took aim at EU chiefs on Monday, saying he was “extremely happy” with his budget plans.
He said: “I am extremely happy, we are keeping our promises, slowly but bravely.
“We are dismantling the previous pension law, giving back the right to work to 400,000 Italians.
“We are not raising taxes of any kind for 2019.”