EVERY month YouGov runs its EuroTrack survey, a multi-country study tracking public opinion in the UK, Germany, France and the Nordic countries.
Looking at the latest data, the results of two questions (one a serious political issue, the other more light-hearted) grabbed my attention.
First, the serious political issue: how would people in the countries we surveyed vote in a referendum on EU membership? Majorities in Germany and Denmark were strongly in favour of remaining in the European Union, while France, Sweden and Finland were less supportive, but still with more people in favour of staying in the EU than those who would support leaving.
Brits, meanwhile, by a vote of 51 per cent to 30 per cent, say that they would vote to leave the European Union.
Any referendum would, of course, be preceded by much debate and campaigning from both sides and, as we saw from the voting reform referendum of 2011, the public’s initial views can quickly change once the arguments for and against are put forward. Therefore we should not see this as conclusive evidence on how an in/out referendum might go.
However, it is the current status of public opinion reflected in these numbers that drives how all politicians across Europe act within the European context as they represent their countries and frames the discussions that Cameron, Merkel et al will have in 2013.
NOT SO JOYEUX NOEL
On an unrelated note, we also asked whether people were looking forward to Christmas this year. Most nations are very positive, Norway the most so with 64 per cent of people saying they were looking forward to Christmas, whilst 56 per cent of Britons said they were excited.
In Finland, on the other hand, only 41 per cent are looking forward to Christmas.
It is the French, however, who are the least jolly about the impending holiday, with 28 per cent agreeing that they are looking forward to Christmas, and 36 per cent disagreeing.
Stephan Shakespeare is the chief executive of YouGov