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Europinion n°8 - April 1996

Results of %C3Continuous Tracking%C3 surveys of the European Union  (January to March 1996)


I. IGC

Even before launching the Intergovernmental Conference in Turin (interviews until 26 March), awareness of the IGC increased by 5 points between February and March to reach the EU average of 20%; it was 15% in January [Graph. 1, Table 1].

The strongest gains were observed primarily in the three new Member States: +20 points in Finland, +12 in Sweden and +9 in Austria, but also in Portugal (+11) and the United Kingdom (+9).

A clear majority of Europeans (71%) think that their country %C3should hold a referendum, if a new treaty on the European Union was concluded at the Intergovernmental Conference%C3 [Graph. 2, Table 2].

According to 77% of Union citizens it is %C3important to reform the institutions of the Union%C3 [Graph. 3, Table 3]. The same proportion of respondents thinks that the decisions taken in the context of the IGC will have important repercussions on the daily life of European citizens [Graph. 4, Table 4].

Moreover, it should be noted that an absolute majority of citizens in all Member States share these three opinions with regard to the IGC and the fonctioning of the Union.

II. INVOLVEMENT OF CITIZENS IN DECISIONS OF THE UNION

The March results suggest that 26% of European citizens think that they %C3often%C3 or %C3always%C3 have a say in the decisions of the Union. In contrast, 67% claim that they %C3rarely%C3 or %C3never%C3 have a say in these decisions [Graph. 5, Table 5].

People interviewed in Portugal (61%), Ireland and Spain (38%) think that they %C3always%C3 or %C3often%C3 have a say in the decisions of the Union. Only 15% of respondents in France and Finland, 17% in the United Kingdom and 18% in Sweden agreed on this issue.

III. FEEliNG INFORMED ABOUT THE UNION

Between January and March there was a gain of 3 points to reach an average of 40% of European respondents stating in March that they feel well informed about the European Union, its policies and its institutions [Graph. 6, Table 6].

The strongest gains are to be found in Belgium, Finland (+8) and Sweden (+6).

The proportion of respondents who claim to be informed is significantly above the European average in Denmark, Luxembourg (58%) and Belgium (49%). On the contrary, citizens feel %C3not well informed%C3 in Portugal (79%), Greece and Finland (66%).

IV. OPINIONS ON POliCY AREAS OF THE UNION

Asked to state their opinions on policy areas of the EU, Europeans think that the Union is doing a %C3good job%C3 in the areas such as arts and culture (56%), cooperation with developing and Third World countries, support for regions which are experiencing economic difficulties and protection of the environment (46%), education (45%), protection of consumers (41%) and health (39%) [Graph. 7].

In contrast, 69% of Europeans think that the Union is doing a %C3bad job%C3 in fighting unemployment, agriculture (51%) and social welfare and worker's rights (40%). The high percentage of %C3Don't know%C3 in the responses should be noted. The results are relatively homogeneous in all Member States.

V. SUPPORT FOR THE UNION

According to 58% of Europeans, EU membership of their country is a %C3good thing%C3, - opinion has on average remained relatively stable since February 1995 - and 47% think that their country has benefited - opinion on this issue has remained relatively stable since January 1996 [Graph. 8 and 8a-o, Table 8 and Tab.9]. (1)

In Ireland support for the Union (Membership and Benefit) is very high and has been increasing since January (81% and 90% respectively in March). Significant increases have also been observed in Spain since the beginning of this year. In Austria support for the Union is at its highest level, but suggests there is a downward trend. We note a slight improvement in Finland. On the other hand, the level of support remains very weak in Sweden. In the United Kingdom support for the Union changes from month to month. It should be noted that the feeling of benefiting from EU membership is diminishing in Germany. In Denmark, the overall support for the Union remains fairly weak.

VI. NATIONAL AND EUROPEAN IDENTITY

%C3In the near future%C3, 12% of Union citizens see themselves as %C3European only%C3, 36% see themselves as having their own nationality only, and one in two claim to identify with both European and national identity [Graph. 9, Table 10].

The notion of a European identity is above the EU average in Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. In contrast, in Ireland, Austria, Portugal, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Greece and Sweden respondents felt more attached to their respective %C3national%C3 identities.

VII. FREE MOVEMENT

One in two Europeans (48%) think that abolishing border controls within the Union is a %C3good thing%C3. On the other hand, 38% of respondents think that it is a %C3bad thing%C3, and 11% think that it is %C3neither good or bad%C3 [Graph. 10, Table 11].

The citizens most in favour of free movement are to be found in Spain (72%), Greece (57%), Ireland (56%), Italy (52%), Austria and Belgium (51%), Germany (49%) and Portugal (47%). Opinion appears to be most divided in France (45%), Netherlands (43%) and Luxembourg. Opinions are more clear-cut in the United Kingdom (57% stating that it is a %C3bad thing%C3), Denmark (61%), Sweden (64%) and Finland (69%).

VIII. Satisfaction with democracy in the Member States and the Union

One in two Europeans are satisfied with the way democracy works in their own country in March. This opinion has not changed since January [Graph. 11, Table 12].

In Denmark (83%), Luxembourg (75%) and Ireland (70%) we find the highest proportion of %C3satisfied%C3. There are less satisfied respondents in Italy (11%), Greece (33%) and East Germany (36%).

The EU average of respondents satisfied with the way democracy works in the Union is 39% in March [Graph. 12, Table 13).

The highest proportion of those %C3satisfied%C3 are to be found in Ireland (63%), Luxembourg (55%) and Portugal (53%). The lowest proportions of satisfied respondents were recorded in Sweden (26%), East Germany (27%) and Austria (32%).


(1) The method of monitoring polls for the %C3Monthly Surveys%C3 between 1994 and 1995 and the one used from the start of January 1996 is different. To demonstrate the incompatibility of results between these two periods the graphs showing evolution all have a gap in the line linking the different points.

Last update: 30/10/2010 | Top