Survey: Europeans feel the benefits of the EU, but demand change and will vote en masse

Elections will be held in June 2024 - Illustration Profimedia

Europeans continue to value membership in the European Union and are quite optimistic about the future of the Union. An overwhelming majority say that the EU has a strong influence on their daily lives, the survey concluded

A stable and overwhelming majority of residents of the European Union members feel that their countries benefit from the Union, but they demand more active changes and will vote en masse in the elections for European deputies in June. This is shown by the results of the extensive survey "Parlemeter 2023" by the Eurobarometer organization, conducted exactly half a year before the European elections.

- Against the impact of the complex geopolitical and economic context on the lives of citizens, Europeans continue to value membership in the European Union and are quite optimistic about the future of the Union. An overwhelming majority say that the EU has a strong influence on their daily life - it is stated in the conclusion of the survey. It is noted that the priorities for the citizens hardly change from election to election – the fight against poverty and social exclusion, public health and climate change remain in the first three places.

The survey showed that the percentage of citizens who are already determined to vote in the elections that will be held from June 6 to 9 c has increased. More than half (57 percent) are already interested in the European elections, and 68 percent say they will vote. For comparison, against the last cycle in 2019, 59 percent of citizens were determined to vote six months before the elections.

As many as 73 percent of citizens expressed fear that their standard of living will decrease this year, and 47 percent stated that their standard has already fallen. More than a third said they sometimes have difficulty paying their bills, but the percentage varies from EU member state to member state. For example, as many as 86 percent of the citizens of Greece said that they cannot or have difficulties paying their bills regularly, while only 8 percent in Denmark or 7 percent in Sweden have such a problem. Only 13 percent declared that they expect to have better living conditions after one year.

Optimists for the future

Contrary to fears, as many as 60 percent declared that they are optimistic about the future of the entire European Union. This percentage is even more pronounced among young respondents, aged 15 to 39. Expectations are positive in all countries, except in France, where 46 percent expressed optimism and 49 percent pessimism.

Survival in a period of major crises such as the pandemic and the war in the neighborhood has strengthened confidence in the European Union. 45 percent of citizens see the Union positively, and only 17 percent negatively. Almost two-thirds think that membership in the Union is good, and almost three-quarters think that it is also useful for their countries. The vast majority of citizens of Lithuania (94 percent), Ireland (93 percent), Luxembourg (93 percent) and Malta (92 percent) are convinced that their countries have benefited from EU membership, and the most disappointed are the citizens of Austria (55 percent). , Italy (57 percent) and Bulgaria (57 percent).

And Europeans are having a hard time making ends meet - EPA photo, Ronald Vitek

When asked to explain where they see the benefit, the majority indicated "the contribution to maintaining peace and strengthening security" and "improving cooperation with other members".

The survey was conducted between September 25 and October 29, and according to the face-to-face method, 26.523 people were covered in all 27 members of the European Union. The number of respondents from each country corresponded to the total population.

Opposing views on enlargement

Across Europe, the view that the EU should speed up its efforts to admit new members is weakening. When this survey question was first asked in the spring of 2022, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 58 percent of citizens declared that they were in favor of accelerated enlargement, and today 53 percent are in favor of faster admission of new members. Average values ​​do not reflect the contrasting views of residents of EU member states. In Lithuania, for example, as many as 72 percent are in favor of accelerated expansion, and in the Czech Republic only 37 percent.

Democracy, human rights, then freedom of speech

When asked which of the values ​​should be defended most strongly by European MPs, the most respondents indicated democracy, as many as 38 percent. Tied for second place with 27 percent each are human rights in the European Union and in the world, and freedom of expression and thought. Followed by the rule of law, gender equality, solidarity between members, human dignity, i.e. the prohibition of the death penalty, torture and slavery, and even in the eighth place is the respect for the national identities, cultures and traditions of the members.

The fewest respondents declared that the European Parliament should defend the freedom of religious belief and the right to request asylum from criminal prosecution.
The defense of democracy is indicated as a priority in 12 countries, the most in Germany (56 percent) and in Sweden (54 percent), and the least in Bulgaria (25 percent), Slovakia (23 percent) and Croatia (20 percent).

Fight against poverty and better health

The fight against poverty and social exclusion, as well as the improvement of public health, are the priority requests of European citizens to future European deputies. One third of Europeans want this, while for 29 percent, the priority should be the fight against climate change and supporting the economy in order to create new jobs.

But the biggest jump compared to previous trials is the request to solve the problem of migration. This problem is now a priority for 3 percent more citizens compared to spring, that is, for even 7 percent more compared to last year.

Interest in voting in the June elections is stable at 57 percent, almost identical to six months ago, but even 6 percent higher compared to the period opposite the 2019 elections.

When asked if they would vote if the elections were held now, two-thirds answered in the affirmative - the most in Denmark (86 percent), and the least in the Czech Republic and Cyprus (50 percent each).

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