Parliament poll: Public confidence in the EU is growing

A participant wears a flag of the European Union during a pro-European Union rally titled 'Pulse of Europe' at the Roncalliplatz square in Cologne, Germany, 23 April 2017. [Joerg Schueler/EPA]

A clear majority of EU citizens now believe that EU membership is good for their country, according to a survey of how they view the EU and its institutions, released on Wednesday (18 October).

At 57%, this share is almost back at its pre-crisis level. And compared to the Brexit referendum year 2016, the share of citizens who believe the EU is beneficial for their countries is up by 4%, according to the European Parliament’s latest ‘Parlemeter’ poll.

Parliament President Antonio Tajani said the encouraging findings of the survey are “a mandate for the European Parliament to increase its key role in shaping the EU’s future”.

“It shows that the confidence in our institutions and our work continues to grow and that we are leaving the crisis of recent years behind,” Tajani said, adding that diverging views “should inspire us to step up our efforts to tackle the concerns expressed”.

The Parlemeter is based on face-to-face interviews with 27,881 Europeans aged 15 or more in all EU 28 member states, conducted between 23 September and 2 October 2017.

Over 60% say their country has benefited from EU membership and 57% say EU membership a good thing. Just under a half feel that their voice counts in the EU – the best result since the 2009 European elections.

The share of citizens who have a neutral image of the European Parliament is 42%, while a third have a positive image, up eight points on the March figure. The share of those who have a negative image is down seven points, to 21%.

Over half the respondents (55%) said they were interested in the 2019 European elections and 47% thought the Parliament should play a bigger role in the future.

In terms of “Positive image” of the European Parliament, Ireland leads with 54%, followed by Bulgaria 49%, Malta 46%, Luxembourg 46%, Portugal 44%, Romania 43%, Germany 41%, Poland 38%, Netherlands 37%, Hungary 36%, Italy 36%, Sweden 35%, Belgium 34%, Austria 33%, Denmark 33%, Slovakia 32%, Lithuania 31%, Croatia 31%, Slovenia 28%, Cyprus 27%, UK 27%, Greece 27%, Finland 26%, Latvia 25%, France 20% and the Czech Republic is at the lowest with 18% of positive opinions. The EU average is 33%.

The research marks a year-on-year increase (2016-2017) of the “positive image of the EP” in almost all member states, with the highest numbers of 16% in Ireland and Portugal. Even in the UK the increase of confidence is 4%.

Big differences are identified in terms of interest for the European elections, with Netherlands leading the pack with 79%, and the Czech Republic bringing up the rear at 23%.

In terms of what policies the Parliament should prioritise, two policies are clearly in the lead: “Tackling poverty and social exclusion” and “Combating terrorism”. Tackling youth unemployment polled at 31% and a common response to migration issues came in at 22%.

Lower priorities included “promoting fundamental rights and democracy worldwide” and “developing a sustainable, competitive and secure energy supply for the EU member states”.

Loss of trust in EU has social and economic consequences

Trust in EU membership is on the up across the continent but confidence in the Union’s institutions continues to flag. That is why a number of initiatives designed to increase transparency and accountability have gained momentum in recent years.

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