EU still receives ‘strong support’ from citizens, survey says
The latest survey of EU-wide public opinion says there is “continued strong support” for the European Union.
Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual
At the time of the polling, however, only one third of citizens actually knew that European elections will take place next month.
The European Parliament’s Eurobarometer poll seeks to test public attitudes to the EU ahead of the EU elections from 23-26 May.
With Brexit and other “challenges” facing the future of the EU, the eagerly-awaited elections are said to be the most significant since the first elections back in 1979.
Many expect to see an influx of MEPs from so-called populist and nationalist political parties.
The latest polling by Parliament, conducted in February and March, says that despite the “various internal and external challenges” to the EU in recent years, the “European sense of togetherness does not seem to have weakened.”
It says that “continued” support for EU membership goes with a strong belief (68 percent) that EU countries overall have benefited from being part of the EU - equalling the highest level recorded since 1983.
In addition, 61 percent of respondents say their country’s EU membership is a good thing.
“The European sense of togetherness does not seem to have weakened” Eurobarometer poll
This approval rate also matches a record peak measured in Parliament’s last Eurobarometer study six months ago and previously only recorded at such a level after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The survey says that citizens’ feelings of uncertainty, partly due to the “challenges” experienced within the EU over the past years, have changed, as seen in the 27 percent of Europeans now considering that the EU is ‘neither a good thing nor a bad thing’, with an increase registered in 19 countries.
Moreover, 50 percent of EU respondents on average, feel things are not going in the right direction either in the EU or in their own country.
Nevertheless, half of respondents (51 percent) believe their voice does count in the EU.
When it comes to making their voices count in the European elections, only a third of Europeans knew that the ballot will take place in May and only 5 percent could cite the exact dates.
Some 35 percent of respondents indicated they would almost certainly vote and an additional 32 percent were still undecided at the time the polling was done.
Citizens’ campaign priorities have further evolved over the past six-month period, according to the Eurobarometer findings.
Economy and growth (50 percent) and youth unemployment (49 percent) now top the agenda, followed by immigration (44 percent) and climate change (43 percent), while combatting terrorism moves down to fifth place with 41 percent.
More than half (54 percent) of respondents would also like to see the European Parliament’s role strengthened in the future, with a view to tackling these cross-border issues.
The survey was conducted between 19 February and 4 March among 27,973 Europeans.
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