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Special Environment Eurobarometer "Attitudes of Europeans towards the Environment" 2004

The first survey of public attitudes to the environment across the enlarged EU of 25 countries reveals that close to nine out of ten Europeans believe that policy-makers should pay as much attention to environmental issues as to economic and social factors when taking decisions.

The survey, carried out in November 2004, showed that almost 90% of Europeans believe that environmental concerns should be taken into account in decision making in fields such as employment and the economy. Nine of the new Member States, feature among the top ten countries where the largest proportion of respondents believe policy-makers should regard environmental issues as of equal importance to social and economic ones.

State of the environment (72%) influences the quality of life as much as social factors (72%) and economic factors are perceived as slightly more important (78%).

The four environmental problems people worry about most are water pollution, man-made disasters (oil spills, industrial accidents etc), climate change, and air pollution. Some significant discrepancies were noted in key concern areas amongst citizens in the new and old Member States, a significantly higher proportion of interviewees in the EU-15 are anxious about climate change, while in the ten new EU countries, air and water pollution and waste management top the list.

Although, the majority of Europeans feel well informed about environmental issues there still remain about one-third of the respondents feel badly informed. It is the relatively new and scientifically complex issues that people say they lack information about: such as the safety of chemicals and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in farming.

A vast majority of Europeans - 85% - feel they already make an effort to care for their own environment. However, over half this majority (57%) also believes that, to achieve results, industry, corporations and other individuals must also play their part. When asked exactly what action they are prepared to take themselves, by far the largest number of people choose sorting and recycling waste (72%) followed by 39% of respondents who are ready to cut their household energy consumption.

When it comes to trustworthy sources of information, Europeans across all 25 Member States look first to environmental protection associations (42%) and scientists (32%).

An important finding for the EU is that one third of respondents believe that decisions about protecting the environment can best be taken at European level - 3% more than two years ago.

  • Press release en
  • Summary of Report en fr
  • Full Report en fr

The special Eurobarometer n217 was realised by TNS Opinion & Social between the 27th October and the 29th of November 2004. 24.786 citizens of the European Union aged 15 and more have been surveyed in the 25 Member States.

See more recent Eurobarometer surveys on the Environment