Autumn 2019 Standard Eurobarometer: immigration and climate change remain main concerns at EU level

According to the results of a new Eurobarometer survey released today, overall trust in the EU remains stable (at 43%), although slightly less than in spring (-1 percentage point). Trust in the EU is the majority view in 18 Member States and trust has increased in 12 Member States in the same period. The survey also shows an increasing concern amongst European citizens about climate change and the environment, support for EU measures to improve gender equality at the work place, and continued support for the Economic and Monetary Union and the euro.

1. Trust and image of the EU

More than four in ten Europeans tend to trust the European Union, nine percentage points higher than trust in national governments and trust in national parliaments (both with 34%, no change compared to the previous survey). Distrust in the European Union has slightly increased (47%, +1 percentage point), while distrust in national governments (61%) and national parliaments (60%) has remained unchanged and significantly high.

Trust in the EU has increased in 12 EU Member States since spring 2019with the largest increases in Bulgaria (60%, +5 percentage points) and Romania (57%, +5 percentage points). The highest levels of trust in the EU are in Lithuania (66%), Denmark (63%) and Bulgaria (60%). Furthermore, in 11 Member States over half of respondents say they ‘tend to trust the EU’: Portugal (59%), Ireland (58%), Romania (57%), the Netherlands and Finland (both 56%), Estonia and Luxembourg (both 54%), Latvia, Malta and Sweden (all 53%) and Hungary (52%). In 4 Member States, a relative majority say they ‘tend to trust the EU’: Germany, Poland, Belgium (all 49%), as well as Slovakia (45%).

The lowest levels of trust in the EU are in the United Kingdom (29%), France (32%) and Greece (34%).

There has been a decrease in the overall percentage of respondents who say they have a positive image of the EU, which now stands at 42% (-3 percentage points). The proportion with a negative image has increased to 20% (+3 percentage points). There has been no change in the proportion who have a neutral image of the EU, which remains at 37%. In 18 EU Member States however, a majority of respondents have a positive image of the EU, with the highest proportions observed in Ireland (63%), Bulgaria (61%) and Portugal (59%).

2. European democracy and EU citizenship

Again, in all 28 Member States, more than half of respondents feel that they are citizens of the EU. Across the EU as a whole, 70% feel this way (-3 percentage points since spring 2019), and at a national level the scores range from 91% in Luxembourg, 86% in Spain, 83% in Germany to 55% in Italy, 53% in UK and 51% in Greece.

A majority of Europeans (52%) say they are satisfied with the way democracy works in the EU although this is three percentage points lower than in spring 2019. The proportion of respondents who are ‘not satisfied’ with the way democracy works in the EU has also increased, by four percentage points since spring 2019 to 40%. Satisfaction is still at its second highest level since 2009.

After the sharp increase in the previous survey, conducted just after the European election of the percentage of Europeans who considered that their voice counted, 45% of EU citizens now agree with this statement (-11 percentage points)[1].

3. Main concerns at EU and national level

Although concern is at its lowest level since autumn 2014, more than a third of Europeans still consider immigration to be the most important issue facing the EU (34%, no change since spring 2019). There is increasing concern about climate change, which remains the second most mentioned issue (24%, +2 percentage points since spring 2019; + 19 percentage points since spring 2014).

The economic situation (18%, unchanged) is in third place, while the state of Member States’ public finances (15%, -3 percentage points) and terrorism (15%, -3 percentage points) share fourth place. Although still among the leading concerns, mentions of terrorism have been in constant decline, losing 29 points since spring 2017.

In sixth position, the environment has increased by one percentage point to 14% (+9 percentage points since spring 2014), while unemployment is in seventh position (12%, no change).

At the national level, health and social security is now perceived as the most important national issue (23%), with a 2-percentage point increase since spring 2019. Taking together, the environment, climate and energy are now the second most important issue at the national level. This concern is now shared by 21% of Europeans (+1 point since spring 2019, +14 percentage points since autumn 2014).Unemployment ranks third (20%, -1 percentage point) at the national level, and over the longer term has declined by 28 percentage points since the high of spring 2014. Concern about the cost of living has declined three percentage points to 18%, and is now in fourth place. Immigration has remained stable with 17% in fifth place, 19 percentage points lower than its peak of 36% in autumn 2015.

4. Key policy areas

Asked about the objectives that should be prioritised in a new European Green Deal, ‘Developing renewable energy’ was clearly identified as the top priority (54%), followed by ‘fighting against plastic waste and leading on the issue of single-use of plastic’ (53%) and ‘supporting EU farmers for them to receive fair remuneration to provide Europeans with affordable and safe food’ (37%).

More than three-quarters (78%) of Europeans are in favour of the implementation of new measures at the EU level to improve gender equality in the workplace. Large majorities are in favour of the implementation of these measures in every country, with proportions ranging from 95% in Cyprus and Portugal and 90% in Spain to 66% in Romania and Estonia and 67% in Italy. On average 13% of Europeans oppose the implementation of these new measures, in particular in Italy and Czechia (both 20%), Romania and Sweden (both 22%), Austria (23%) and Denmark (24%).

Two-thirds of EU citizens are in favour of a common European Asylum System: in 26 Member States, majorities are in favour, though with considerable variations between countries – from 89% in Cyprus, 86% in Germany and 84% in the Netherlands to 40% in Estonia and 44% in Latvia.

Support for the Economic and Monetary Union and for the euro remains high, with more than three-quarters of respondents (76%, no change) in the Euro area in favour of the EU’s single currency. In the EU as a whole, support for the euro is also stable at 62%.

Source: European Commission Representation in Cyprus