In Depth

Euro 2016 vs EU referendum: Which country is most anti-EU?

If the tournament was settled according to levels of Euroscepticism, England would go out in the quarter-finals

Euro 2016 is being held against a backdrop of confusion over the future of the European Union. 

The UK's referendum on the political bloc takes place midway through the tournament and by the time England, Wales and Northern Ireland return home, they could be leaving Europe in more ways than one.

But it's not just in the UK that the future of Europe is a political hot potato, it also divides opinion on the continent, in member countries and beyond.

So, who would win Euro 2016 if it was decided by each country's attitude towards the EU?

Here's how the tournament would pan out if it was decided according to how much the participating countries disliked the European Union:

Switzerland63% negativeQ
France25% negativeQ
Romania9% negative 
Albania9% negative 

The Swiss are supposed to be neutral, but there's little doubt how they feel about the EU, with 63 per cent of their MPs voting to drop their application to join the bloc earlier this year, a move that earns them first place in Group A.

France come in second, with a quarter of its people unhappy with the EU, while the Europhiles of Romania and Albania stand no chance and are eliminated at the first hurdle.

Russia62% negativeQ
England46% negativeQ
Wales39% negativeQ
Slovakia24% negative 

England may pride itself on its Eurosceptics, but they are no match for Russia, who even went to war with Ukraine over its EU membership plans. Consequently, it's no surprise to see Russia top the group, with England a strong second.

Wales also have their doubts about Brussels and come in third, easily grabbing a third-placed qualification spot ahead of Slovakia, who can count themselves very unlucky. A 24 per cent negative view of Brussels would have been enough for second in some less Eurosceptic groups.

Northern Ireland35% negativeQ
Ukraine31% negativeQ
Germany27% negativeQ
Poland7% negative 

The Northern Irish are the most Eurosceptical in Group C and top the table ahead of Ukraine, a country deeply split on the issue. Germany, seen by many as the country driving the EU, make it to the knock-out stages thanks to growing discontent about Europe.

Poland, on the other hand, limp in last with barely a whimper of opposition to Brussels.

Czech Republic31% negativeQ
Turkey23% negativeQ
Spain18% negative 
Croatia12% negative 

Czech Republic has only been a member of the EU for 12 years but plenty of people are fed up with it and they are the top Eurosceptics in Group D, ahead of Turkey, where 23 per cent of the population have a negative view of the bloc.

Spain, who won Euro 2012, cannot rustle up enough Euroscepticism to defend their title and they go out with only 18 per cent against the union. Croatia, which only joined the EU in 2013, are even less Eurosceptic and finish bottom, with only 12 per cent opposition.

Sweden25% negativeQ
Italy23% negativeQ
Belgium23% negativeQ
Republic of Ireland14% negative 

The Swedes show some typical Scandinavian scepticism to finish top of Group E, with a quarter against the EU. But this is a very tight league. Italy and Belgium are just behind, tied on 23 per cent. Having been bailed out by the EU, Italy get second spot, while Belgium, as the home of Brussels, are relegated to third but still scrape through to the last 16.

Ireland's love of the EU remains undimmed and they bow out at the group stage, with only 14 per cent.

Iceland59% negativeQ
Austria41% negativeQ
Hungary20% negativeQ
Portugal15% negative 

Iceland is very much on the fringes of Europe and it appears that is where the country sees itself, as they top Group F with a massive negative opinion. Austria's Euroscepticism would put most countries to shame, but it is only enough for second place here. 

Hungary are not that sceptical, with only 20 per cent against, but they still make the last 16. The Europhiles of Portugal are heading home after finishing bottom of their group.


Ukraine beat France

Czech Republic beat Hungary

Russia beat Germany

Iceland beat Italy

Wales beat Northern Ireland

Sweden beat Turkey

Switzerland beat Belgium

England beat Austria

As you might expect, some of the more established EU nations - Germany, Italy, Spain and Belgium - do not have the stomach for the fight and bow out in the first knock-out stage. Wales and Northern Ireland collide and, confirming national stereotypes, the miserable Welsh who beat the more upbeat Irish. 

The last eight will feature four EU member countries and four from outside the union.


Czech Republic beat Ukraine

Russia beat Iceland

Wales beat Sweden

Switzerland beat England

The first quarter-final goes to penalties, with Czech Republic winning on account of having more neutrals than Ukraine, meaning there is more scope for negative feeling.

Russia's defeat of Germany seems fitting in the context of European history and disharmony, while England's hopes of becoming the standard-bearers for Euroscepticism are dashed on the rocks of Swiss suspicion. Wales, who finished below England, make it to the last four by beating Sweden.


Russia beat Czech Republic

Switzerland beat Wales

The last remaining EU nations are bundled out of the tournament and the defeat of Wales completes the Euro 2016 Brexit. The two semi-final winners really could show the UK a thing or two about being Eurosceptic and the final will pit the aloof Swiss against the downright hostile Russians.


Russia beat Switzerland

In the end, it is the hostility of Russia that overcomes the neutrality of Switzerland. It's no surprise that a non-EU nation should win the anti-bloc tournament, but the average performance of the UK's three entrants suggests Britain is not the only member state to harbour doubts about Brussels.

Sources: EU: European Commission Standard Eurobarometer 84 (December 2015) / England, Wales, Northern Ireland: regional Brexit polls / Albania: AIIS European Perspective of Albania 2014 / Iceland: Já Ísland poll 2016 / Russia: Lavada Centre poll 2015 / Switzerland: 2016 parliamentary vote on EU membership / Turkey: GMF Turkish Perceptions Survey 2015 / Ukraine: Rating sociological group poll 2014


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