Europeans increasingly want stronger EU-wide cooperation to tackle the financial crisis according to the latest Eurobarometer – a snapshot of opinion across the continent gauged in May this year – although faith in the ability of institutions to combat the crisis is ebbing.
The survey polled respondents across the continent on five key areas where the EU is seeking to coordinate its activities: economic policy within the EU and within the euro group, supervision of large banks and financial institutions and regulating financial services.
In all five the overwhelming majority – always more than 70% – said that closer coordination was an effective response.
The figures show a steady increase from the beginning of polling on the issues in 2009. The level of endorsement for coordination of economic policies increasing from 71% in spring of that year to 79% this year, whilst 77% backed closer EU supervision of companies and 78% backed closer supervision of rescued banks (both up from 67% in 2009).
Marginal optimism about the future
There was also a rise in optimism about the economy’s outlook – reflecting the mood three months ago – with 43% believing that the worst of the financial crisis’s impact on the job market is behind us, according to the bi-annual opinion poll organised by the European Union.
That is a rise of one per cent on the last survey, but a 15% increase on the poll taken in spring 2009.
There was a sharp difference between member states, however, with Denmark (68%), Estonia (64%), and Austria (62%), recording strong confidence levels that the impact of the crisis on the job market has already peaked.
In Greece and Portugal – both wresting hard with the crisis – the overwhelming majority of respondents (78% and 80% respectively) believe the worst is yet to come.
Commission insiders hailed the fact that despite a one percent decrease in confidence amongst those polled – to 22% – the EU remains considered the best placed actor to tackle the crisis.
Neither right nor wrong direction?
This represents a slide from 26% in spring last year, however, and elsewhere the poll indicated sinking confidence in the ability of the US to deal with the crisis – only 7% believed so compared to 16% in spring 2009 – and a three percent increase, to 7%, in those who believe that no country or institution is well placed to control the worsening conditions.
Officials also talked up the 46% of respondents who agreed that the EU was taking the right direction, comparing this to the 23% who said the EU was going in the wrong direction.
This statistic is slightly misleading, however, since the remaining voices are divided between those who do not know whether the EU is going in the right direction or not (11%) and those who think it is neither going in the right nor the wrong direction (20%)!