A new survey says that the vast majority (92 percent) of citizens across all Member States demand that their voices are ‘taken more into account in decisions relating to the future of Europe’.
The survey, commissioned by the European Parliament and European Commission, showed that three-quarters of Europeans consider that the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe will have a positive impact on democracy within the EU.
After a series of delays, the Conference is finally due to start in May, will last a year and will look at a whole range of EU reforms.
According to the EU-wide poll, some 76 percent of respondents agree that the Conference represents significant progress for democracy within the EU (25 percent “totally agree” and 51 percent “tend to agree”), with a clear majority supporting this view in every EU country.
Respondents thought that people from all walks of life should be actively involved (51 percent), with 47 percent saying that young people should have an important role; as well as national governments (42 percent) and academics, experts, intellectuals and scientists (40 percent).
Just over half of Europeans (51 percent) would like to get involved themselves, with Irish respondents being the most enthusiastic (81 percent) followed by Belgians (64 percent), Luxembourgers (63 percent) and Slovenians (63 percent).
While voting in European elections is clearly regarded (by 55 percent of respondents) as the most effective way of ensuring voices are heard by decision-makers at EU level, there is strong support for EU citizens having a greater say in decisions relating to the future of Europe.
“According to the EU-wide poll, some 76 percent of respondents agree that the Conference represents significant progress for democracy within the EU, with a clear majority supporting this view in every EU country”
Of the 92 percent who believe that EU citizens’ voices should be taken more into account, 55 percent “totally agree” and 37 percent “tend to agree.” Only 6 percent disagree with the statement.
Six in ten Europeans agree that the Coronavirus crisis has made them reflect on the future of the European Union (19 percent “totally agree” and 41 percent “tend to agree”) while 39 percent disagree with this (23 percent “tend to disagree” and 16 percent “totally disagree”).
Respondents were asked to choose developments they wanted to see for the future of Europe: Having comparable living standards (35 percent) and stronger solidarity among Member States (30 percent) are the two developments most cited.
Europeans also prioritise the development of a common health policy (25 percent) and comparable education standards (22 percent).
Climate change is clearly regarded as the main global issue affecting the future of the EU, with 45 percent of Europeans selecting this as the main challenge.
“We believe that the Conference can change the relation between citizens and the EU significantly, if the process is successful”
Bent Norby Bonde, Secretary General of the Europe's People's Forum
The survey was conducted both online and face to face in all Member States last November.
Bent Norby Bonde, Secretary General of the Europe's People's Forum, told this site, "It is very encouraging that the Eurobarometer shows such that such a significant number of Europeans (76 percent) believe that the Conference on the Future of Europe will have a positive impact on democracy within EU."
"This is why we believe that the Conference can change the relation between citizens and the EU significantly, if the process is successful."
He added, "Through many years Eurobarometers have shown that half of the Europeans felt that their voices were not heard, the democracy was too weak and the distance too big between the people and the EU. This is reflected in this new Barometer in which almost all (92 percent) believe that the voices of EU’s citizens should be taken more into account in EU’s decisions."
"The Europe’s People’s Forum was founded because we strongly believed that by engaging all EU citizens into the EU’s policymaking and by ensuring that the EU would listen, we could give everybody a sense of ownership to the future changes and improvements of the EU. The new Eurobarometer indicates that we were probably right."