The Eurobarometer survey

Since 2007, the European Commission has undertaken frequent Eurobarometer surveys on the subject of EU citizens, agriculture and the CAP. The Commission uses these surveys to chart public perceptions of agriculture, forestry and rural areas in the EU.

The most recent survey was carried out between August and September 2020, taking in over 27,200 responses from citizens across all EU countries.

Eurobarometer 2020: key findings

  • Importance of agriculture and rural areas

According to the Eurobarometer, 95% of citizens believe that agriculture and rural areas are important for our future; over half of those surveyed (56%) believe they are highly important.

  • A policy that benefits all citizens

EU citizens have become increasingly aware of the CAP: 73% knew of the policy in 2020, compared to 67% in 2017. Over three quarters of Europeans believe that the CAP benefits all citizens, not only farmers (76% today, compared to 61% in 2017).

  • Performance, priorities, and achievements

More Europeans think that the EU is fulfilling its role regarding the key priorities of the CAP. Compared with 2017, the perception of the CAP’s performance in all areas – including food security, food safety and quality, and sustainability- has improved by at least 5 percentage points.

Food security, safety, and quality

According to the Eurobarometer survey, 92% of EU citizens believe that securing a stable supply of food for the EU is an important priority; 62% of survey participnts believed that ensuring the production of safe, healthy food of high quality should be the CAP’s main objective.

When it comes to purchasing food, the survey revealed:

  • EU citizens value short supply chains – 87% of those surveyed regarded this as important factor when it came to purchasing their food. Citizens also consider it important that their food is produced in a manner that respects local tradition and ‘know-how’ (87%), and comes from a geographical area that they know (81%).
  • Although 81% consider it important that their food bears a label that guarantees quality, awareness of EU quality labels have remained relatively low, at between 14-20%. The Commission continues to promote its quality schemes, e.g., through the inspired by GIs recipe campaign.
  • More citizens are now aware of the EU’s organic farming logo, with 56% of respondents recognising the logo, an increase of 29% compared to 2017. Citizens believe that organic products are more likely to comply with specific rules on pesticides, fertilisers, and antibiotics (82% agreed), are more environmentally friendly (81%), and are produced with higher respect for animal welfare (80%).

Supporting farmers

According to the Eurobarometer, EU citizens recognise the many ways in which farmers contribute to society. When asked about the main responsibilities of farmers, the top responses included:

  • providing safe, healthy food of high quality (54%),
  • ensuring the welfare of farmed animals (30%),
  • protecting the environment and tackling climate change (27%).

90% of respondents felt that strengthening the farmer's position in the food supply chain was an important priority and 70% believed that the CAP was contributing to this objective. Roughly half of respondents (51%) believed that ensuring a fair standard of living for farmers should be the main priority of the CAP. With regard to the CAP’s financial support of farmers,

  • nearly half of EU citizens (47%) consider that the level of income support provided to farmers is fair, while a significantly increased number of citizens believe that the level is too low (39% of respondents were of this opinion in 2020, compared to 26% in 2017);
  • a growing number of citizens believe that income support for farmers should increase over the next ten years – 56% held this opinion in 2020, a rise of 12% compared to 2017 and 27% compared to 2007.

EU agriculture and the environment

The survey shows that environmental concerns – such as tackling climate change, protecting natural resources, and enhancing biodiversity – have become an increasingly important priority for citizens. Over half of respondents believed that protecting the environment and tackling climate change (52%) should be the CAP’s main priority.

The Eurobarometer shows a growing awareness amongst citizens of the interaction between agriculture and the environment:

  • While 42% of citizens believe that agriculture is one of the major causes of climate change (increasing from 29% in 2010), the majority of citizens (55%) believe that agriculture has already made a significant contribution to the fight against global warming.
  • Most citizens (69%) agree that farmers in the EU need to change the way they work in order to fight climate change – even if this means that EU agriculture will be less competitive. However, 66% are prepared to pay 10% more for agricultural products that are produced in a way that limits their carbon footprint.
  • Roughly seven in ten Europeans believe that the CAP is contributing to the sustainable management of natural resources (70%) and the fight against climate change (69%). A large majority of respondents (92%) were in favour of the EU continuing to provide subsidy payments to farmers who carry out agricultural practices beneficial to the climate and the environment.

Securing the future of rural areas

According to the survey, eight out of ten EU citizens recognise the importance of the CAP's rural development priorities:

  • 86% believe that encouraging young people to enter the agricultural sector is an important objective;
  • 86% recognised the importance of boosting investment, growth, and job opportunities in the agriculture and food sector;
  • 83% felt that achieving a balanced territorial development across the EU is an important objective
  • 80% highlighted the importance of developing research and digital solutions to support the agriculture and food sectors

When asked what aspects of rural areas could currently be qualified as “good”, citizens responded:

  • environment and landscape (82%),
  • access to leisure and cultural activities (56%),
  • educational facilities (54%).

When asked how rural areas have evolved over the last ten years, survey participants highlighted

  • “access to high speed internet” as the aspect that has improved most (55% agreed),
  • “job opportunities” were perceived as having worsened the most (42% agreed); 45% of those who responsed to the survey felt that creating growth and jobs in rural areas should be the main priority of the CAP.