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Brussels, 12 May 2014
Special Eurobarometer survey: "Europeans in 2014"
Less than two weeks ahead of the European Parliament elections, a Special Eurobarometer survey "Europeans 2014" published today provides a snapshot of the latest public opinion on the economic outlook in Europe and the future of the EU. These findings are based on a survey carried out in all 28 Member States in the second half of March 2014. They show that optimism and trust are on the rise – citizens feel more strongly that the EU is overcoming the crisis and that they can have a say in the EU.
1. Outlook on the economy: Confidence is growing
As the recovery in the EU is taking hold and economy forecast to grow more robustly, people's perception of the current economic situation in Europe is improving. There has been a positive shift since autumn 2013: currently 33% (+2pp) believe that the current situation of the European economy is good, whereas the share of those rating the current situation is bad is decreasing (-3pp to 65%).Significant differences between Member States remain, however.
Looking ahead, people's expectations are also improving - in 20 of the EU's 28 Member States. This includes Member States which have been hit the hardest by the economic downturn. Strong increases in optimism were recorded in countries facing economic difficulties such as Cyprus and Italy – and also in two countries that have either recently successfully exited their economic adjustment programmes (Ireland) or are about to do so (Portugal).
There has been a 5pp increase in the proportion of people who think that the economic situation in their home country will be the same or better since last November. At the same time, there has been a sharp decline in the number of people who believe that the situation will deteriorate (– 15pp) in the last 18 months - since autumn 2012.
As the charts show, these and other results are not just one-offs but consistent improvements over past years as recent waves of Eurobarometer surveys demonstrate.
2. Impact of the crisis: Optimism continues to rise
Over 44% of Europeans (+4pp) think that the worst impact of the crisis on jobs is behind us, compared to 40% in autumn 2013 and 23% in autumn 2011. In contrast, 47% believe that the worst is still to come, down from 50% in the Standard Eurobarometer survey of autumn 2013 or 68% in autumn 2011. At national level, the strongest rise in optimism was recorded in Cyprus +23 pp (to 34%). The survey however also shows that unemployment, which is still high in some Member States, remains a strong concern for many citizens.
3. "My voice counts in the EU": Highest Increase in 10 years
Just ahead of the European Parliament elections, the proportion of those citizens who think their voice counts in the EU is rising significantly: 37% of Europeans now agree with this statement (+8pp) compared with November 2013. This is the biggest plus in 10 years.
Over the course of 2013, the European Commission has intensified its efforts to listen and talk to citizens directly via a number of Citizens' Dialogues (IP/14/295). In total, since September 2012, over 50 Dialogues have been held, covering all Member States, with 22 European Commissioners participating, usually joined by Members of the European Parliament, national, regional or local politicians. At these debates, Europeans could raise their views on issues such as their rights as EU citizens and the future of the Union. The Dialogues thus helped to prepare the ground for the upcoming elections.
4. Methodology: Representative samples from all Member States – for more than forty years
Eurobarometer surveys are the only ones to cover all 28 Member States. They have been regularly carried out since 1973 and therefore make it possible to analyse the evolution of European citizens' views over a significant period of time – another unique feature.
This Eurobarometer was carried out from 15 - 24 March 2014 in all 28 Member States, with almost 28,000 Europeans taking part in this survey.
The face to face interviews were carried out at respondents' homes of a representative sample of adults aged 15 years and above by TNS opinion & social network in accordance with industry standards.
These questions have already been asked in previous Standard Eurobarometer surveys, allowing for an analysis of opinion trends over time.
The general trends in this survey are based on the average of all 28 Member States. This average is weighted so that it reflects the population of each Member State. The averages for the previous surveys represent the results obtained in all the Member States of the European Union, as it was composed at the time the survey was conducted.
For more information
Press release: IP/14/543
The detailed data set, including country results, is available on the Eurobarometer website at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_special_419_400_en.htm#415