On average, awareness of the I.G.C. 1996 remains stable. In December, more than one in five Europeans had heard of the Intergovernmental Conference in 1996.
Asked in December, more than seven in ten Europeans (71%) think that the future reforms of the European institutions will be important in their lives.
According to a majority of Europeans, decisions in the following policy areas should be taken by the Union: science and technology research, the fight against drugs, foreign policy, equality between men and women, Third World cooperation and protection of the environment.
Support for the Union has risen in British public opinion since December. This is also the case in Spain (due to the Spanish Presidency), in Italy and in Denmark.
In Portugal, in Ireland and in Greece, the number of citizens satisfied with the way democracy works in the European Union has increased.
For the second consecutive month the British (15%) are the least informed concerning the I.G.C. The level of awareness remained stable in Germany, though at a low level (17%).
More than seven in ten Europeans interviewed in December (71%) think that future reforms of the European institutions will be important in their lives. Only 16% believe the opposite to be true [Tab 2, fig. 3].
The Germans, the Luxemburgers (77%) and the British (76%) are the ones who attribute the greatest importance to these future reforms. In Spain, a much clearer majority than in November (62%, +8) perceives these reforms as being important. The citizens who attribute the least importance to these reforms are to be found in Denmark (31% %C3little%C3 or %C3not important at all%C3), in Sweden (28%), and in Finland (27%).
In France (76%), in Germany (64%) and in Luxembourg (62%) there has been an increase in the proportion of citizens who think that the representatives of their country have %C3a lot%C3 or %C3some influence%C3 on the decisions taken within the Union, in institutions such as the Council of Ministers, as compared with the figure in November 1994 when the same question was asked. [Tab 3, fig. 4].
In Spain, due to the Spanish Presidency, there has been a rise of 13% in the number of citizens who think that their representatives have an influence on the decisions taken by the Union compared to November 1994 (the new figure is 33%).
Asked the same question for the first time, not many Swedes (19%) think the same.
A strong majority of Europeans think that the following policy areas should be handled at the E.U. rather than the national government level: science and technology research (75%), the fight against drugs (74%), foreign policy towards countries outside the European Union (71%), equality between men and women (70%), cooperation with the Third World (69%) and the protection of the environment (67%) [Tab 4, fig. 5].
On the other hand, a strong majority of Europeans believe that the following policy areas should be the object of national decision-making: education (63%), social security (62%), rights of workers (57%) and cultural policy (55%).
In other policy areas, European public opinion is more divided.
On average, 52% of citizens in the Union responded favourably to the question %C3Do you think that your country has benefited from E.U. membership?%C3 (Benefit) in December.
In December, 57% of European citizens perceived membership of their country to the Union as a %C3good thing%C3 (Membership) [Tab 5 and Tab 6, fig. 6 and fig 6a-o by cuntries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark,Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden].
Support for the Union (Membership and Benefit) has improved in Finland during September. It remains weak in Sweden and is at a lower level than the average in Austria.
After a continuous drop since July, support of the Union was rising again in British public opinion in December.
In Spain (Spanish Presidency), in Italy and in Denmark, support for the Union increased considerably in December.
This support decreased only in Germany and in France compared with the November figures.
The Danes (80%) and the Luxemburgers (79%) are the most satisfied, as opposed to the Spanish (36%) and the Italians (17%).
The strongest drops were recorded in Austria (38%, -10), in Germany (49%, -8), in France (46%, -7) and in Italy (33%, -7).
The highest increase in interviewees expressing satisfaction with the way democracy works in the EU has been recorded in Portugal (67%, +11), in Ireland (71%, +9) and in Greece (46%, +6).