Cit­i­zens air views on EU’s fu­ture di­rec­tion

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - 60 YEARS OF EUROPEAN UNITY - Joe Der­mody

Cit­i­zens broadly agree on the EU’s main as­sets as be­ing its eco­nomic, in­dus­trial and trad­ing power, along with the Mem­ber States’ shared re­spect for democ­racy, hu­man rights and the rule of law.

How­ever, peo­ple’s per­cep­tions of the EU’s main strengths vary sig­nif­i­cantly, with peo­ple in each coun­try hav­ing ex­pressed very dif­fer­ent pri­or­i­ties in the new ‘Fu­ture of Europe’ sur­vey of EU cit­i­zens.

For in­stance, broadly speak­ing, cit­i­zens in the EU’s found­ing states are much more likely to men­tion the EU’s re­spect for democ­racy, hu­man rights and rule of law as the main as­sets. Newer en­trants are more likely to cite the block’s stan­dard of liv­ing and in­fra­struc­ture.

But the opin­ions can’t be eas­ily re­duced to sim­ple ‘New vs Old’ com­par­isons be­tween states. Re­spon­dents in the Nether­lands (54%), Spain and Es­to­nia ( both 41%) are the most likely to say the eco­nomic, in­dus­trial and trad­ing power as main as­sets.

Re­spon­dents liv­ing in Fin­land ( 37%), Latvia (36%) and Slo­vakia (34%) are the most likely to say that the good re­la­tion­ship be­tween the EU’s Mem­ber States is one of its lead­ing as­sets. Those in Swe­den ( 16%), Croa­tia and Spain (both 18%) are among the EU cit­i­zens least likely to men­tion this.

The EU’s ca­pac­ity for re­search and in­no­va­tion is most likely to be con­sid­ered a main as­set by re­spon­dents in Greece ( 17%), Italy and Spain (both 16%). This is least likely to be men­tioned by re­spon­dents in Bul­garia, the Nether­lands ( both 6%), Latvia and Ger­many (both 7%).

Re­spon­dents liv­ing in Poland ( 21%), Ire­land ( 19%), Hun­gary, Aus­tria and Ro­ma­nia (all 17%) are the most likely to say the qual­ity of in­fra­struc­ture in the EU is one of its main as­sets. Those in Den­mark, Malta and the UK are the least likely to men­tion this (all 7%).

Still, there is a shared view of un­em­ploy­ment as the main chal­lenge for the EU ( 45%). More than a third of peo­ple see so­cial in­equal­i­ties and mi­gra­tion is­sues to be the prin­ci­pal chal­lenges ( both 36%), while just over three in ten ( 31%) men­tion ter­ror­ism and se­cu­rity is­sues.

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