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Spring 2010 Eurobarometer: EU citizens favour stronger European economic governance

Commission Européenne - IP/10/1071   26/08/2010

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IP/10/1071

Brussels, 26 August 2010

Spring 2010 Eurobarometer: EU citizens favour stronger European economic governance

75% of Europeans think that stronger coordination of economic and financial policies among EU Member States would be effective in fighting the economic crisis, according to the Spring 2010 Eurobarometer, the bi-annual opinion poll organised by the EU. The survey was conducted in May – at the height of the European debt crisis – and published today. 72% of Europeans support a stronger supervision by the EU of the activities of the most important international financial groups, an increase of four percentage points from the last Eurobarometer in autumn 2009. Europeans’ main areas of concern in the crisis were the current economic situation (40%; unchanged compared to autumn 2009), unemployment (48%; -3 percentage points) and rising prices (20%; +1). The crisis also had an influence on citizens' perception of the EU: 40% of Europeans associate the EU with the euro (+3), 45% with the freedom to travel, study and work anywhere in the EU (-1), and 24% with peace (-4).

"The clear majority for enhanced European economic governance shows that people see the EU as a decisive part of the solution to the crisis,” said Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, who is also in charge of Communication. “Our spring survey – conducted at the height of the crisis – reflects the difficult times and challenges that Europeans faced during the past months. Since then, the EU has taken important and bold steps to restore confidence. As a result, the euro has rebounded and we are now seeing the start of growth in Europe’s major economies. It is certainly too early to declare victory. However, we now have a chance to shape European economic governance, as favoured by EU citizens, so that Europe can help address their concerns."

The Spring 2010 Eurobarometer was conducted through face-to-face interviews between 5 and 28 May 2010, and thus at the height of the European debt crisis. A total of 26,641 people were interviewed across the 27 EU Member States.

The results of the Spring 2010 Eurobarometer highlight citizens' growing expectations from the EU: an increasing number of Europeans believe that neither the United States nor the G20, but the EU is best placed for taking effective action against the crisis (26%, +4 compared to autumn 2009).

There is also a rising demand for stronger coordination of economic and financial policies at EU level: 75% of citizens want more European economic governance (+2 compared to autumn 2009 and +4 compared to February 2009). The support for economic governance is strongest in Slovakia (89%), Belgium (87%) and Cyprus (87%). There was an important shift in favour of stronger economic governance in several countries, in particular, Finland and Ireland (+13 compared to autumn 2009), Belgium and Germany (+7), Austria, Luxembourg and Slovakia (+6), and the Netherlands (+5).

Most Europeans are aware of the important challenges all EU countries are facing at the moment: 74% agree that their country needs reforms to face the future (+1 compared to autumn 2009), and 71% are ready to face reforms for the benefit of future generations (unchanged). Europeans are unsure about how to best stimulate economic recovery: 74% believe that measures to reduce national public deficits and debt cannot wait (85% in Sweden, 84% in Hungary, 83% in Germany, 82% in Belgium and Cyprus, and 80% in the Czech Republic, Greece and Slovenia). Meanwhile, in the EU-27, 46% also support the use of public deficits to stimulate economic activity (compared to 36% who are against and 18% who do not know). In the 16 countries of the euro area, the result is different: 42% are against the use of public deficits, whilst 41% support it.

A majority of Europeans confirm that the EU has set the right priorities in its economic recovery strategy "Europe 2020" (IP/10/225): 92% share the view that labour markets need to be modernised with a view to raising employment levels and that help for the poor and socially excluded should be a priority. 90% support an economy that uses less natural resources and emits less greenhouse gases.

When asked about the benefits of EU membership, 49% of Europeans said in May that EU membership of their country was a “good thing” (-4 compared to autumn 2009). Public support for EU membership was still higher than in 2001, when following the downturn after the burst of the "Internet bubble", public support for EU membership stood at 48%.

The survey also found that in May 2010 trust in the EU institutions remained higher compared to national governments or national parliaments (42% vs. 29% and 31%, respectively), even though confidence in the EU fell at the height of the crisis (to 42% from 48% in autumn 2009). Trust was most pronounced in Estonia (68%), Slovakia (65%), Bulgaria and Denmark (61%), whilst it was lowest in the United Kingdom (20%).

In view of the accession talks that the European Council started with Iceland on 27 July 2010 (IP/10/1011), the Spring Eurobarometer also included face-to-face interviews with 526 Icelanders for the first time. The people of Iceland were asked about their general attitudes towards the EU. In May, 35% trusted the EU and 29% thought that Iceland would benefit from being a member of the EU.

Background

The European Commission made proposals, on 12 May and 30 June, to strenghten economic governance and improve structural and budgetary surveillance in the EU (IP/10/561, IP/10/850).

The latest Eurostat figures (second quarter 2010) show that GDP growth in the EU-27 rose by 1.0% compared to the first quarter of 2010.

For more information

The Spring 2010 Eurobarometer (first results) is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb73/eb73_first_en.pdf

Annex

Main findings of the Spring Eurobarometer

Three quarters favour stronger European economic governance

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

What Europeans associate the European Union with

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Perception on the need for reforms at national level

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Confidence in the EU and national governments/parliaments

Question: Generally speaking, do you think that (OUR COUNTRY)'s membership of the European Union is…? Results for period spring 2001- spring 2010. % EU

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Support for "Europe 2020" priorities

Question: For each of the following initiatives, please tell me how important or not you think they are in order for the European Union to exit the present financial and economic crisis and prepare for the next decade. Please use a scale from 1 to 10, where '1' means that you think this initiative is "not at all important" and '10' means that it is "very important". % EU


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