The EU's Assembly of Regional and Local Representatives
Brussels, 18 October 2012
Results of first regional-level Eurobarometer released
Public perception across the EU of the current economic situation and quality of life indicate major variations not only at national level but even more so at a regional level. Results also show that representatives from all levels of government have a crucial role to play to ensure that Europe is communicated effectively locally.
These are some of the main findings of the first ever Eurobarometer survey conducted at a regional level, the results of which were presented at the opening session of the European Conference on Public Communication (EuroPCom) yesterday in Brussels.
The Special Eurobarometer survey offers for the first time a detailed view of the European public perception at a regional level. Conducted between 20 August and 15 September 2012, over 50,000 EU citizens were interviewed coming from 170 regions in the 27 EU Member States. Mercedes Bresso, Committee of the Regions (CoR) First Vice-President, said of the results that: "It is important to make the effort to not always reflect from a national perspective. That is why I am very glad that for the first time this Eurobarometer takes a regional point of view enabling us to better understand public perception from Europe's regions".
The data overwhelmingly demonstrates that unemployment is currently the top priority and main concern across all the EU regions, with the exception of certain parts of Germany, and that environment has almost gone off the agenda of most citizens.
With regards to the economic situation, although the results show a predominantly negative view of the situation at EU level (71% of the respondents considering it as "bad"), their distribution among the Member States and, in some cases even more so between regions, are very diverse For example 99% of respondents from the Drenthe region in the Netherlands view the region's economic situation as being "good", in stark contrast to 4% in some Portuguese regions. Unsurprisingly data largely reflects the impact of the economic crisis with lower results being found largely in the regions of Southern and Eastern Europe. However, a rather gloomy view about the evolution of the economic situation in the near future is found in a higher number of regions all over the EU, suggesting that even in countries where the economic situation is good, citizens tend to be nervous about the future.
When asked about quality of life, a clear distinction is found between Northern and Western EU regions on the one hand, where a majority of the respondents consider the quality of life as being "good", and the East and South on the other, where citizen's perceptions are more negative. The results however also show that the perception of quality of life is not only explained by economic factors.
During the EuroPCom opening session, a considerable part of the panel's discussions focussed on the results about the EU regions' views on which political representatives are best placed to explain Europe. In Southern countries where the economic situation is challenging, such as in Greece, Spain, and Italy, the results clearly show a general distrust in the political elite. As pointed out by Mercedes Bresso, it is interesting to see that: "in "big" countries and regions such as France, Poland, Southern Germany and the UK, people tend to rely on their local and regional representatives to communicate about Europe". In other countries, respondents referred to their national representatives (e.g. Scandinavian countries, West Germany), Members of the European Parliament (e.g. Portugal) and Members of the European Commission (e.g. Czech Republic). Reacting to these results, Gregory Paulger, Director-General of the European Commission's Directorate-General Communication stressed: "It is clear from the mix of answers that the best way to communicate Europe is to communicate in partnership, involving all levels of government, and in particular the local and regional levels".
The results of this Special edition of the Eurobarometer were presented on the occasion of the third edition of EuroPCom (17-18 October 2012, Brussels) to fuel discussions on the current confidence crisis among citizens vis-à-vis the EU and better understand perceptions of the EU. Since 2010, EuroPCom brings together communication managers and senior experts of local, regional, national and European authorities to share their insights and practical experiences in actual communication challenges. Over 700 colleagues from all EU Member States have registered for this two-day networking event.
The programme for EuroPCom 2012 features debates, workshops and lectures on public opinion in Europe, social media and web communication, EU communication and dialogue with specific target groups such as young people, older people and migrants. More than 50 speakers from all over Europe set out their visions of public communication and present best practices from European cities, regions and Member States.
EuroPCom is an initiative from the Committee of the Regions, organised in cooperation with the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, the Cypriot EU presidency and the European Commission.
The results of the Flash Eurobarometer 356 – Public Opinion in EU Regions – are available on the Eurobarometer page of the European Commission's website
The EU Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law infringes the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
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