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Europinion n° 9 - September 1996

Results of %C3Continuous Tracking%C3 surveys of the European Union  (April to July 1996)

%C3It would be a good thing for the EU to be able to take decisions on policies to reduce the level of unemployment which would be imposed on all Member States%C3, this is what almost 8 in ten Europeans (79%) declared. 

%C3Europe can be competitive on world markets without changing the level of social benefit system%C3 states a majority of 51% of the citizens of the Union.

Six Europeans in ten feel %C3very attached or quite attached%C3 to Europe. The attachement to Europe is particularly strong in Luxembourg (78%), in Denmark (72%), in Germany (70%), in Italy (70%) and in Austria (69%).

Technical Specifications

I. IGC

The effects on public awareness of launching the IGC seem to have weakened progressively by June 1996, when 22% of people interviewed in the whole of the Union had heard of the Intergovernmental Conference; they were 31% after Turin - in April. We note a clear recovery as from the last week of June (28%). We find the highest proportion of citizens who have heard about the IGC in Finland (44%), Sweden (40%) and Denmark (38%). The lowest level of awareness was observed in the Netherlands (20%) [Fig. 1 and Fig. 2, table 1].

Amongst those who have heard about the IGC, the Conference is thought to be mainly about the single currency (37%), enlargement of the Union (23%) or a review of the Maastricht Treaty (19%). The proportion of %C3don't know%C3 is 22% [Fig. 3,table 2].

However, the importance Europeans see in the decisions to change the way the Union works for the life of citizens cannot be denied: three in four (75%) see these decisions as %C3very or quite important%C3 in July (the figure for March was 77%). Absolute majorities expressing this opinion have been observed in each Member State since March 1996 [Fig. 4, table 3].

It is important to reform the institutions of the Union in the event of an increase in the number of Member States, according to 76% of Europeans. This was the prevailing opinion in all Member States from June to July 1996 [Fig. 5, table 4].

Those who attribute the highest importance of reforming the way the EU works in the event of enlargement are to be found in Ireland, Germany, Austria (87%) and United Kingdom (86%). Citizens in Belgium (68%), Portugal (65%) and Spain (49%) see a more relative importance in these reforms.

II. Enlargement

A majority of Europeans (50%) see the arrival of such countries as Cyprus, Malta, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic in the European Union as a good thing. Only 23% of Europeans think this is a bad thing [Fig. 6, table 5].

The countries most in favour of these countries joining the Union are to be found in Greece (77%), United Kingdom (60%), Ireland (59%), Netherlands (58%) and Sweden (58%); the opposite opinion is held in Luxembourg (33%), Belgium (39%), Austria (41%) and Germany (42%).

III. Citizenship

1. right to vote in local elections

Every citizen in each country should have the right to vote in the municipal/communal elections in the Member State he lives inî, according to 60% of Europeans. Only 34% of Europeans are against this principle [Fig. 7, table 6].

In 13 Member States, more than half of the people interviewed %C3tend to agree%C3 with the right to vote in local elections, particularly in Ireland (72%), Spain (70%) and Portugal (69%). By contrast, the majority was attained neither in Denmark (39%) nor Finland (37%).

2. Free movement

A relative majority of 43% of Europeans think that removing borders between Member States of the Union is a %C3good thing%C3, while 40% of the respondents think it is a %C3bad thing%C3, and for 13% it is %C3neither a good nor bad thing%C3 [Fig. 8, table 7].

The idea of removing borders is viewed favourably, particularly in Spain (62% for %C3a good thing%C3), Greece (53%), Italy (52%), Belgium (49%), Ireland (47%), the Netherlands (46%) and Germany (44%). However, this view is not shared in Finland (22%), Denmark (28%), United Kingdom (28%), Sweden (35%), Portugal (36%), Luxembourg (37%), France (40%) and Austria (40%).

IV. Attachment to Europe, country, region, town or village

Six in ten Europeans feel %C3very of quite attached%C3 to Europe, 90% feel an attachment for to their country, 84% for their region and 84% for their town or village [Table 8].

Attachment to Europe is very strong in Luxembourg (78%), Denmark (72%), Germany (70%), Italy (70%) and Austria (69%). This is less the case in Portugal (36%), Greece (42%) and Great Britain (43%).

V. Union Policies

1. Fighting unemployment at the level of the EU15

%C3As part of the changes to the way the European Union works, it would be a good thing for the European Union to be able to take decisions on policies to reduce the level of unemployment%C3, according to 79% of Europeans. Only 13% claim this would be %C3a bad thing%C3 [Fig. 9, table 9].

On the issue of fighting unemployment, an absolute majority was attained in every Member State. The threshold of 70% was exceeded in 13 Member States. In the United Kingdom, 61% of the people interviewed think that this is a good thing, the corresponding figure for Denmark is 55%.

2. Social benefit and economic competitiveness

A narrow majority of 51% of Europeans think that %C3Europe is capable of being competitive in world markets without changing the level of its social benefit system%C3. The view that a %C3reduction or a strong reduction in the social benefit system%C3 is necessary %C3if Europe is to remain competitive in world markets%C3 is shared by 38% of the EU's citizens [Fig. 10, table 10].

In all Member States, a majority of people interviewed wish to keep the current level of their social benefit system, the only exception being Austria where 59% of citizens are prepared to reduce the amount of social current levels.

3. Trust in the Union's institutions and national institutions

Almost one in two Europeans (49%) states that he trusts his national Parliament to take decisions in his interest. There are 48% who trust their national government. The corresponding figure for the European Parliament is 41%, for the Council of Ministers it is 40%, and for the European Commission it is 39% [Fig. 11, table 11].

VI. Support for the Union and attitudes towards the Union

1. Optimism and satisfaction with regard to the Union

A clear majority (58%) is %C3optimistic%C3 about the Union, and 35% feel %C3satisfied%C3 about the Union [Fig. 12, table 12].

When thinking about the Union, optimism prevails in all Member States, with the exception of Sweden (38%), the United Kingdom (46%) and Denmark (48%) where pessimism overrides. The most %C3satisfied%C3 are to be found in Ireland (66%), Luxembourg (52%), Portugal (50%), Finland (48%), Greece (46%), Spain (45%) and in the Netherlands (45%) [Fig. 13, table 12].

2. Support for the Union

In general, the positive feeling of %C3being member%C3 of the Union (59%) and the feeling of having benefited from it (49%) have remained stable over the period between 27 March and 16 July 1996 [Fig. 14 and 14a-o by countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark,Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, table 13 and table 14].

In Spain, support for the Union (%C3Membership%C3 and %C3Benefit%C3) has grown progressively since November 1995. This support is at its highest level in Ireland, and is on the increase in Austria and Finland in the period from 27 March to 16 July 1996. This is not the case for Sweden, however, where the trend points downwards reinforcing the existing low level of support. In Germany, the perception of having benefited from EU membership has weakened since January 1996.

3. Satisfaction with the way democracy works in the Union

Almost four in ten Europeans (42%) rate themselves as %C3very%C3 or %C3fairly satisfied%C3 with the way democracy works in the Union. There are 38% who are not satisfied [Fig. 15, table 15].

We note the most satisfied in Ireland (67%), Luxembourg (59%) and United Kingdom (53%). This perception is much weaker in Sweden (31%), Austria (31%) and Italy (33%). 

Last update: 01/02/2012 | Top