Do the Falklands belong to the United Kingdom? New poll shows not everyone in Europe agrees

Islas Malvinas or Falkland Islands?

More than 40 years after the 10-week war between the United Kingdom and Argentina, the British-owned archipelago – less than 500km off the Argentine coast – continues to cause controversy.

A new YouGov EuroTrack poll asked Europeans, as well as Brits and Americans, what they thought of the following question: Who should the Falklands belong to – the UK or Argentina?

While in the UK a comfortable majority (57%) believe that sovereignty over the Falklands belongs to them, only 16% believe that it should be in the hands of Argentina.

These results are not surprising given that a YouGov poll a few months ago suggested that Britons would be more upset if Gibraltar and the Falklands left the UK than Northern Ireland.

More than 32% of Britons said they would be “upset” if Northern Ireland left the UK, while 35% and 33% respectively said the same about the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar (an enclave on the Iberian Peninsula).

But do other Europeans feel the same way as the British?

While northern Europe is in favour of British sovereignty, with around 30% of Danish and Swedish respondents supporting this option, both central and southern Europe have doubts.

Also 30% of respondents – Germans and Italians – support the Argentine claim and believe that the country has sovereignty over the islands.

FILE – In this Sept. 18, 2015 file photo, the Malvinas Museum features rocks in the shape of Malvinas, or Falkland Islands, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

However, Spain has positioned itself as the strongest defender of Argentina in Europe. Some 52% of Spaniards surveyed are clear: the islands should be Argentine.

Spaniards feel strongly about the territorial dispute with the British, comparing it to the situation in Gibraltar.

Diplomatic tensions with the enclave are cyclical, particularly over Gibraltar’s use of the adjacent waters. The peninsula claims them as its own, but Spain does not recognise this and claims sovereignty.

A recent poll found that only 18% of Britons would give Gibraltar back to Spain.

The Yougov poll also asked Americans about the Falklands and found that over 30% favoured British sovereignty.

This new poll adds fuel to the fire following the very tense standoff between the British government and the European Union that put the islands back in the spotlight this summer.

The British tried to prevent the inevitable. The European Union decided to refer to the islands by their Spanish name as well as their British one. A significant change.

While British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a statement deploring the EU’s ‘regrettable choice of words’, Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero welcomed the EU’s willingness to ‘take note’ of his government’s territorial claim.

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