More than half of Germans surveyed raised major concerns about the Brussels gravy train and the loss of social security.
According to a survey of 2,125 German adults by think-tank Demos, 52 per cent had strong concerns about the eurozone’s largest economy making increasing payments to the EU amid fears they will lose jobs and their national identity.
In 2015 Germany sent Brussels €24.283billion, just under 0.8 per cent of its gross national income.
The EU spent €11.013billion in Germany in the same year.
Demos said: “The loss of social security and increasing payments to the EU are of at least some concern for one in five citizens.”
But despite the findings, leading politicians attempted to dismiss their constituents’ concerns and branded them extremist.
The think-tank said: “Politicians in Germany believe there are no concrete, distinguishable fears or worries about the EU.
“Four out of six politicians say that they have not heard of or spoken to citizens in their constituency about concrete concerns in relation to the EU. Instead, they describe a latent feeling of general malaise.”
Instead the elite claim: “If concrete concerns are mentioned at all, then they are only held by citizens who are perceived to hold extreme political opinions.”
A member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party took a swipe at the rising popularity of Frauke Petry’s Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party, which was initially set up opposing Germany’s financial commitments to the EU and has turned its focus to migration.
The lawmaker said: “I haven’t heard anyone in my constituency be concerned about the loss of their national identity or German culture. Maybe this is more of a concern in Frauke Petry’s constituency?”
Instead of addressing Germans’ concerns and “distinguishable fears” about the EU, Demos found politicians said there was a “general emotional state” and “for man people, the EU is the scapegoat for all sorts of problems”.
But Demos said “there is indeed a gap between public opinion and the political elite’s interpretations in Germany.
The UK-based think-tank warned Germans could demand major EU reform if politicians continued to ignore them.
Demos said Germans hold “genuine concerns” about the EU, “which – if they remain unaddressed by politicians – may induce German people to become more Eurosceptic or to demand concrete measures of EU reform”.
The 485-page study into the “politics of fear in the EU” found Germany, Britain, France, Sweden and Poland have all experienced a loss of trust in the bloc and found “there is indeed a gap between public opinion and elite interpretations of the EU.”