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What do Europeans actually think about science?

Europeans are more interested in science than sport and want EU research boosted reveals Eurobarometer report published on 21st June 2010

Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "The success of the Europe 2020 Strategy depends on cutting edge science to keep Europe competitive. In turn, that means ordinary Europeans need to back science and keep the pressure up on government and on industry to invest in it. These results show a very high awareness of the importance of science. But they also show that both politicians – like me – and scientists themselves need to explain better what we are doing and why."

According to the latest Eurobarometer report:

  • Nearly 80% of Europeans say they are interested in scientific discoveries and technological developments, compared to 65% interested in sport.
  • Over 70% of Europeans think EU-funded research will become more important in the future. 57% think scientists should put more effort into communicating about their work and 66% believe governments should do more to interest young people in scientific issues.
  • Europeans overwhelmingly recognise the benefits and importance of science but many also express fears over risks from new technologies and the power that knowledge gives to scientists.

The results are available on the public opinion webpage on the Europa website.

"We are more intelligent together" - EU citizens value science and cooperation at national and European levels

A recent qualitative study, regarding the image of science and the perceptions and attitudes on the European research policy of the EU citizens, found out that:

  • Science is highly valued and intimately linked to the idea of progress.
  • At the same time, science gives rise to some fears and reservations - mostly of possible misuse by mankind.
  • There is support for a more coordinated European research policy and a need to pool human and financial resources to do research on issues of common interest such health, environment or energy.

The comments came from group discussions that were carried out in the 27 European Union member states during summer 2008 and which included men and women aged 17 to 60 years, drawn from a mix of social groups.

Read more in the full report. ( 505KB)

Young Europeans are enthusiastic about science – but still reluctant to pursue scientific careers

Science tops the table of young Europeans' interests, but that does not seem to be enough to make them consider a scientific career, indicates a ‘Eurobarometer’ study.

Young people's recommendations were passed to European Research Commissioner Janez Poto─Źnik

What are Europeans' preoccupations about science in 2005?

The results of two Eurobarometer studies were published in June 2005:

According to two the reports:

  • 71% of EU citizens agreed that collaborative research at EU level is growing in importance and 59% considered that the EU should spend more money on scientific research.
  • A total of 64% of Europeans agreed that our economy can become more competitive only by applying the most advanced technologies.
  • The same proportion acknowledged the role science and technology plays today in industrial development.
  • The survey supported the perception that the USA is more advanced that Europe in research, with only 12% of those questioned thinking that Europe is ahead of the USA.

Read more in the Press release (Europeans support more money for EU research)

2003: Candidate Countries Eurobarometer on Science and technology

The first Candidate Countries Eurobarometer ( 488KB), based upon fieldwork in 2002, showed that science was viewed positively in the Candidate Countries but with poor career prospects - the young need convincing.

  • Important questions for the future of science in an enlarged Europe are raised by the first major Commission survey in the Candidate Countries published.
  • More than half of all people questioned had little interest in science and technology, with young men in Cyprus and Hungary the most likely to value science, and older women in Bulgaria and Turkey the least.
  • Young people are turning their backs on scientific careers, citing poor salary prospects as the chief reason.
  • However, eight out of ten people believed that science could improve their quality of life and cure terminal illnesses and that generally European research delivered positive results.

Read more in the Press release (Science in the Candidate Countries: enthusiastic but with poor career prospects, the young need convincing, 4 April 2003)

2001: First Eurobarometer on public perceptions of science

The results of the first Eurobarometer survey of European attitudes to science ( 287KB) showed a mixed picture, ranging from confidence and hope to lack of interest in scientific activities. In some areas, Europeans even regarded the impacts of science as something to be feared.

  • Among the EU- citizens surveyed, 45.3% said they were 'rather interested' in science and technology issues, whereas a smaller percentage found politics (41.3%) and economics (37.9%) interesting. Culture (56.9%) and sports (54.3%) topped the list.
  • People's interest in science was strongly correlated with their age and place of residence. Countries most interested were Sweden (64.3%), Denmark (60.9%) and the Netherlands (58.9) - the countries registering the greatest number of higher education graduates in Europe.
  • Gender also played a significant role: far fewer women than men were interested in science (39.6% as opposed to 51.5%).

Read more in the Press release (Science and Society: European attitudes and views, 2001)

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