European citizens want the fight against poverty and the issue of social exclusion to top the European Parliament’s agenda ahead of next June’s EU elections, according to Eurobarometer, the bloc-wide survey carried out on behalf of EU institutions and published on Wednesday (6 December).
The Eurobarometer is a regular survey to gauge citizens’ opinions on national and European issues, politics and policy, and the role of the European Parliament. The survey, conducted between 25 September and 19 October, provides insight into how citizens feel ahead of the June 2024 European Parliament elections.
Questions included whether they think EU membership is a positive thing, has impacted their lives, and what the advantages and disadvantages are. It also asked whether they feel their voices are heard locally and in the EU and whether they think the EU is democratic.
Across all member states, the fight against poverty and social exclusion was a top priority, with 36% of the 26,523 respondents putting it first. Public health was second with 34%, and action against climate change, together with economic support and job creation, both tied in third place with 29%.
While the EU debate in Brussels is more focused on migration, the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, and the global competition with China, citizens are more concerned about the social and economic consequences of these issues, which affect their daily lives.
According to the data, 73% of respondents expect their living conditions to deteriorate in the next year. In comparison, 47% have already seen their living standards reduced due to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and rising inflation.
High percentages of both indicators are detected in Cyprus (77%), Greece (70%) and France (69%).
According to the survey, 61% of respondents said that EU membership is ‘a good thing’, rising to 70% among those between 15 and 24 years old.
The figure has remained steady throughout the years, fluctuating between 47% and 65% between 2007 and today.
Regarding differences among EU countries, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Denmark have the most positive views of EU membership while the Czech Republic, Italy, and Austria have the least, with a high percentage of people remaining neutral.
“This Eurobarometer shows that Europe matters. In this difficult geopolitical and socio-economic context, citizens trust the EU to find solutions,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told a press conference on Tuesday (5 December).
“A vast majority of Europeans believe that EU actions have had a positive impact on their daily lives,” she added.
Among EU respondents, “peace and strengthening security” are one of the key benefits of being an EU member, followed by economic growth and working opportunities in second and third place, respectively.
The biggest disadvantage of being a member state, according to the survey, is that people have little influence on EU decisions, followed by the fact that some things are better handled at a national level and that national governments lack influence in EU policy-making.
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[Edited by Alice Taylor/Zoran Radosavljevic]
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