Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy Margot Wallström told EURACTIV in a recent interview that having more targeted Eurobarometer surveys is one of the objectives of the new communications strategy which will be adopted in June 2005.
"We have started to do it with Eurobarometers on the Constitution being targeted for each member state at member state level. So we will do more of that. I totally agree. The whole way of working with Eurobarometer is something that we have to look at again. So this is one of the elements of the new communications strategy," said Wallström.
In an interview conducted on 21 October 2003 and posted on the Europa portal's dedicated public opinion website, Jacques-René Rabier, the first EU director general of information policy and founder of Eurobarometer, spoke about the origins of this EU-wide survey.
While many questions have remained the same over the years, he regretted that nowadays people are no longer asked about their level of trust towards other nations. He argued that in the early days these questions revealed very interesting relations, for instance, strong mutual confidence between the Germans and the French and a weaker level of mutual confidence between the English and the French.
Mr Rabier said he would have liked to see the illustrations on euro notes tested on Europeans. In his view, the illustrations currently used are "not very inspiring". If he had the opportunity to carry out a survey today, he would choose Turkey as a theme.
Mr Rabier says that Europe does not stir passions in terms of public opinion. Younger generations think that Europe is a done deal, that it is going on its own while his generation had to and still has to fight for Europe, that it has to have solid institutions.
According to Rabier, European public opinion is still "under construction" although Europeans tend to think similarly about a number of issues, for instance on democracy, human rights and the status of women. Young people and the more educated are closer to one another in the different countries than other categories of the population.
A former Director of Communication at the Commission Press and Communication DG, Niels Jørgen Thogersen said that in comparison with 30 years ago, nowadays there is a real interest in getting to know the views of citizens and in promoting a dialogue. The internet is a particularly helpful intermediary which is used to provide public access to the outcome of the surveys.