European Citizens Speak out on the First European President: Only 12% of the Europeans Know Herman Van Rompuy, European Citizens' Favorite Candidate was Tony Blair

By Proximity Panels - Ivox, PRNE
Thursday, November 19, 2009

LEUVEN, Belgium, November 20 - Although Herman Van Rompuy was appointed as the first 'European
President' last Thursday, he doesn't seem to be the European citizen's
favorite. On the contrary.

Based on the results of a large European opinion study from
the international opinion polling agency Proximity Panels, it became apparent
that the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman Van Rompuy, is only known by 12% of
the European citizens. The name Tony Blair (UK) on the other hand rings a
bell for 70% of the European citizens. Second best, but lagging behind, is
Mary Robinson from Ireland who is known by 1 out of 5 Europeans (19%).

The number 1 favorite candidate by far is Tony Blair. Almost
1/3 of the Europeans are convinced he makes an ideal candidate. The Belgian
Herman Van Rompuy only appeals to 5% or 1 out of 20.

On the other hand, the fact that he is Belgian seems to make
up for it, since only 1% vetoes a Belgian candidate, whereas putting a Brit
in charge would be a bad move according to 16% of the Europeans.

    More Striking Results

    - "As expected, EU citizens still have a very strong national
      sentiment, even when it comes to the European Union and its
      institutions", states Steven Deketelaere, Chairman of Proximity Panels.
      Most of the citizens prefer the European President to be a national
      from their own country.
    - It has proven to be a tough case to get the national leaders
      at the European Summit to achieve consensus on one candidate and there
      is also a lack of consensus among the citizens. This is mostly due to
      the fact that, besides Tony Blair, all the other people on the
      shortlist are not very well known. What is most striking is the fact
      that more than 25% have no opinion on the subject. "The European Union
      is still being perceived as something way over people's heads", Steven
      Deketelaere argues. The distance between their own national capital and
      "Brussels" can sometimes be much further in people's minds than it
      really is.
    - Nevertheless, people who perceive the European Union as something
      negative are in the minority.

More detailed findings directly available on

Proximity Panels was founded in November 2009. Proximity
Panels "unites the best of local research panels worldwide". This unique
initiative was launched with lightning speed: the entire set-up, national
media partner search for exclusive publication of the results, fieldwork and
data analysis & data reporting, only took a total of 5 working days. The
initiative was launched on November 11, 2009. Since there was a tight
deadline because the top European politicians planned that the decision on
the first EU-President should be made on November 19th, this was the ideal
occasion to publicly launch Proximity Panels, showing off our speed,
efficiency and, most of all, our quality. Steven Deketelaere, Proximity
Panels Chairman, puts it this way:"Proximity Panels is a European initiative
founded by European companies. For us, the event of a First EU-President is
not just a very interesting issue for an opinion poll but also a start of a
unique and successful international cooperation".

    More Information:
    Contact Steven Deketelaere

More Information: Contact Steven Deketelaere, steven.deketelaere at, +32-473-960-707, +32-16-22-62-14

will not be displayed