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Europinion n°3 - January 1995

Results of %C3Continuous Tracking%C3 surveys of the European Union  (September to December 1994)

In the period from September to December 1994, Europeans felt that the economic situation has improved somewhat. However that did not include satisfaction with employment or purchasing power.

In November, the allocation of portfolios to the new Commission gave rouse to more support for the Union. But one month later, following the publication of the Annual report of the Court of Auditors and other national events, the new support had dwindled.

These are the main conclusions to draw from monthly polls carried out between September and December 1994 for the European Commission the results of which are given in this Europinion (Technical specifications at the back). Let us remind that these polls are done from the beginning of 1994 and that the results of January to July have already been published in Monitoring/Suivi EUROPINION Nr 1 and 2.

I. Assessment of the changes in the economic situation from last year

a) Development in various fields in own country

In November 1994, the acknowledgement of improvements in the economic situation and the social climate in most Member States in comparison to last year has not been accompanied by any perception of an improvement in employment levels and purchasing power.

When asked %C3Compared to twelve months ago, would you say that the situation in (our country) is now rather better, not as good as before or that is has not changed regarding (the following areas) ?%C3, those who answered %C3rather better%C3 using the European average figures have been the following: economic situation: 27%; social climate: 20%; employment: 19%; purchasing power: 15%; health insurance: 13%; unemployment benefit: 8%.

In five countries the feeling that there have been improvements in the economic situation is higher that the European average of 27%: Ireland (44%), Germany (38%), the Netherlands (42%), Denmark (32%) and Spain (29%).

In seven countries, however, the feeling that there has been a deterioration in the employment situation is also above the European average of 39%: Portugal (67%), Luxemburg (54%), France (43%), Germany (42%), Spain and the Netherlands (41%) and Italy (40%).

b) Development of own economic situation

The proportion of Europeans (questioned in November 1994) who think that their personal economic situation has improved during the last twelve months is 15%. The proportion of those who think it has worsened is 28%, while 56% think that it has not .

The Danish (26%), the Irish (22%), the Germans (22%) and especially the East Germans (37%), the Dutch (21%) and the British (21%) have seen an improvement in their financial situation during the last twelve months.

The Greeks (35%), the French (33%), the Italians and the Portuguese (32%) feel more strongly that they have experienced a decline in their personal financial condition.

However, an overall majority of Europeans feel that no change has occured.

c) Forecasts on own economic situation over the next twelve months.

When asked that their personal economic situation would be for the next twelve months, 28% of Europeans think that it will be better, 18% think it will not be as good and 47% think that it will not change.

The East Germans (42%), the Irish (33%) and the Portuguese (32%) are amongst the most optimistic as regards their economic situation in the future.

The Greeks (24%) are the most pessimistic.

II. Satisfaction with the way democracy works in own country

After the significant average increase in satisfaction in the functioning of democracy among Member States between June and September, the figures level off between September and November. 50% of Europeans feel %C3very satisfied%C3 or %C3fairly satisfied%C3 with the way democracy works in their own country. 47% feel %C3not very satisfied%C3 or %C3not at all satisfied%C3.

This question is asked every two months.

III. Support for the European Community

Between September and December positive feeling towards EU membership rested at an average of 58%. Compared with the summer statistics it grew by 2 per cent in November (60%) only to decline by 5% in December (55%).

The rise in the average number of Europeans who, in November, felt that their membership in the European Union was a positive thing is probably due to the satisfaction experienced in certain Member States with the allocation of the portfolios of the New Commission.

While in December, notwithstanding the effects of national polities in relation to the Union, the circulation of the Court of Auditors Report (published November 16) probably contributed to the disappointment perceived throughout the entire EU.

By European standards, positive opinion regarding the benefits to be gained from EU membership seemed to be stable between September and December of 1994. In September it was at 52%, 53% in November and 51% in December.

IV. Perceived national influence in European Union decision making

The recent hand out of the new Commission's portfolios, resulting from the meeting called by Mr Santer in Senningen, has probably influenced the way Europeans perceive the power of their country's institutions. 46% of the people interviewed between the 1st and 5th of November think that the representatives of their country have %C3a lot of influence%C3 or %C3a fair amount of influence%C3 over the decisions taken within the European Union. 47% think that their representatives have %C3not a lot of influence%C3 or %C3no influence at all%C3.

This same question was asked during the October opinion poll. In only one month the gap between the way smaller countries felt in comparison to the bigger ones, had been further reduced. The citizens of Portugal (50%), Ireland (53%) and Denmark (53%) have become even more aware of the power of their country in the Union's decision making.

Those citizens who feel the most pessimistic about the decision making powers of their country within the Union are still the Spanish (58% %C3not a lot of influence%C3 and 10% %C3no influence at all%C3), Greeks (52% and 18%), Dutch (58% and 3%) and Italians (49% and 7%).

V. Satisfaction with the way democracy works in the European Union

The question on satisfaction with the way democracy works in the European Union, which is asked every two months, shows a certain (decreasing) stability between October and December when looking at the European average. 47% (-2) of European feel %C3very satisfied%C3 or %C3fairly satisfied%C3 with the way democracy works in the European Union. 45% feel %C3not very satisfied%C3 or %C3not at all satisfied.

VI. Enlargement to the East

After the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden, 66% of European would be in favour of the accession %C3at a later stage%C3 for Hungary, 62% for Poland, 61% for the Czech Republic, 58% for the Slowak Republic and Bulgaria, 56% for Rumania and 55% for Slovenia.

The most significant differences between countries are those that can be seen concerning the accession of Poland : the percentage of Italians (73%), French and Dutch (70%) in favour of the accession is above the European average. In East Germany the numbers in favour of the accession of Central and Eastern European countries are well above the European average for all countries in question except Rumania and Slovenia.

Italians, French and Belgians are on the whole more in favour of an enlargement of the Union eastwards than their European neighbours.

VII. Attitudes towards certain European Union policies

In January and February 1994, four important policies within the Maastricht Treaty were put forward, as part of the Monthly Monitor, to the people questioned. The results of these very same questions in December 1994 are practically the same.

Single Currency

%C3There should be a European Monetary Union (EMU) with one single currency replacing by 1999 (the national currency) and all other national currencies of the Member States of the E.U.%C3: 53% in favour (Germany 36%, Great Britain 35%, Denmark 24%) and 40% against.

A European majority of 54% is %C3strongly in favour%C3 or %C3somewhat in favour%C3 of the ECU as single currency. Those who are most in favour are the Belgians (73%), while 73% of the Danish and 61% of the British are against.

Common foreign policy

%C3The Member States of the E.U. should have a common foreign policy in comparison with the non Member States%C3: 69% in favour (Denmark 54%, Great Britain 53%) and 21% against.

Common defence policy

%C3The Member States of the E.U. should work towards a common defence policy%C3: 81% in favour (Ireland 65%, Denmark 54%); 12% against.

European Central Bank

%C3There should be a EMU with a European Central Bank pursuing a policy of monetary stability that is fighting inflation%C3: 70% in favour (Germany 64%, Great Britain 53%, Denmark 46%); 22% against.

Last update: 01/02/2012 | Top