Standard Eurobarometer 50 - Highlights
The standard Eurobarometer was established in 1973. Each survey consists of approximately 1000 face-to-face interviews per country. Reports are published twice yearly. Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged.
The findings presented in
this 50th Eurobarometer report, which illustrate the state of
public opinion towards the European Union in the autumn of 1998 and also
shed light on the development of public opinion during the 25 years that
the Eurobarometer has been carried out, can be summarised as follows:
Expectations for 1999
Thirty-three percent of EU citizens are of the view that their life
in general will be better in 1999 and 52% think it will be the same.
The proportion of EU citizens who believe their life in general will
be worse has steadily declined since the early nineties so that only
10% believe it for 1999.
The process of European integration
More than half of Europeans (55%) feel that a great deal or a fair
amount has been achieved during the past 50 years in terms of Europen
integration. Only 34% feel that very little or nothing at all has been
The public nowadays perceives Europe to be progressing at a faster
pace than it did in the past. Conversely, people's desired speed has
in recent years been lower than it was when the question was first asked
in 1986. However, the current desired speed is not as slow as it was
in the autumn of 1993.
Many Europeans (52%) believe the European Union will play a more important
role in their daily life at the beginning of the next century and 32%
believe it will play the same role. Furthermore, most Europeans would
like the EU to play a more important role in their daily life (48%)
or believe that it should at least play the same role (27%). There are
very few people who believe the European Union will (7%) or should (14%)
play a less important role in their daily life in the 21st century.
Support for the European Union has increased for the third time in
a row. More than half of the EU population regards their country's membership
as a good thing and around half of the population feels that their country
has benefited from EU membership. However, there are large variations
in support levels between the 15 Member States and between the various
socio-demographic groups in the population. While men (57%) are still
more likely than women (51%) to regard their country's membership to
the European Union as a good thing, the gap between the genders is decreasing.
Positive responses among the female population cross the 50% mark for
the first time since 1996.
The single currency
In the autumn of 1998, support for the single currency - which was
introduced on 1 January 1999 - reached its highest level since the survey
began measuring support in 1993. 64% of EU citizens were in favour of
the euro and only 25% opposed it. Support is significantly higher in
the countries that introduced the euro from the start (70%) than in
the 4 "pre-in" countries (42%).
Over the years, people have become more optimistic about the perceived
effects of the euro. While in 1996, 33% of the public still thought
that the euro would have more disadvantages than advantages this view
is now only shared by 28% of EU citizens.
The large majority of people, both in the countries that have introduced
the euro and in the "pre-in" countries, believe that euro
notes and coins should be introduced transitionally and that the period
of dual circulation should last as long as is legally possible (i.e.
Eighty-three percent of EU citizens are now able to say that the single
currency is called the euro compared to only 46% in early 1996, when
its name had just been decided.
The proportion of people living in the euro-zone countries who received
information about the euro increased significantly since the spring
of 1998. People living in the euro-zone countries are far more likely
to say that they have received information about the euro than people
in the "pre-in" countries (70% vs. 25%).
Many Europeans respond positively to the idea of enlarging the European
Union to include new European countries. 72% feel that the Union will
be more important in the world if it includes more countries and 64%
regard a Union that consists of more member countries as a cultural
enrichment and believe that a larger Union will guarantee more peace
and security. However, the results also reveal that quite a few people
are concerned about the economic implications of enlargement: 47% believe
that enlargement will cost their own country more money and that their
country will receive less financial aid once new countries have joined.
Nonetheless, economic factors are not the only issues that the public
takes into account. There is widespread consensus that new countries
can only join the European Union if they respect Human Rights and the
principles of democracy (94%), if they fight organised crime and drug
trafficking (92%) and if they protect the environment (91%).
Priorities in 1974 and 1998
In order to commemorate the 25th anniversary
of the Eurobarometer a question that measured what the most important
problem facing the EEC in 1974 was has been repeated on the EB50. While
fighting rising prices was top of the list in 1974, replacing the currencies
is top of the (same) list in 1998.
In 1998, there is widespread consensus among the European public when
it comes to employment: 92% believe the fight against unemployment should
be a priority for the European Union and 89% want the EU to fight poverty
and social exclusion. Other priorities are the fight against organised
crime and drug trafficking, maintaining peace and security in Europe
(both 89%) and the environment (86%).
Following the principle of subsidiarity, EU citizens are most likely
to believe the EU should take decisions in areas which transcend national
borders like the fight against drugs (72%), foreign policy (71%), scientific
and technological research and humanitarian aid (both 70%).
The June 1999 European Parliament elections
More than 7 in 10 EU citizens intend to vote in the June 1999 European
Parliament elections. Voting intentions are highest in Greece (92%)
and lowest in Austria (58%).
Perceptions of how the media covers EU affairs
In comparison to the autumn of 1997, the public is now less likely
to feel that the amount of EU news coverage on the television, the radio
or in the daily newspapers is too little. The public is now slightly
more likely to believe that the media covers EU affairs in a fair way.
EU citizens are most likely to consult the media when they look for
information about the European Union. 60% say they get their information
from the television, 41% say they get it from the daily newspapers and
24% say they get it from the radio.
However, few EU citizens feel they know much about the European Union
so that the desire for more information is widespread: 21% say they
really need to know a lot more and 44% would like to have some more
information. 32% feel happy with what they already know.