Citizens air views on EU’s future direction
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.