Irish most optimistic about EU's future – Eurobarometer autumn 2016
Optimism about the future of the EU is highest in Ireland (77%) according to the latest Standard Eurobarometer poll (data collected in November, 1006 people polled). This compares to an EU average of only 50%, with Greece in bottom place at 30%.
The survey also shows that 69% of Irish people (up 14 percentage points since spring) feel that things are going in the right direction in Ireland. This is the highest in the EU where the average is 29%. People in Luxembourg were the second most positive at 61%.
People in Ireland (47%) were also the most positive about the direction in which the EU is going. However, on average across the EU, only 23% of respondents felt that in general things are going in the right direction in the EU.
Irish respondents (55%) were the most likely to have a positive image of the EU, followed by Poland (51%) and Romania (50%). A further 31% of Irish respondents had a neutral image of the EU while 13% had a negative image.
In the EU as a whole, 35% of respondents had a positive image of the EU while 38% had a neutral image and 25% had a negative image.
Immigration top worry for Irish and for Europeans overall
The top three EU concerns for Irish respondents are immigration (sic) (41%) and terrorism (33%) followed in third place by the state of public finances (21%). However, 81% of Irish respondents feel positive about immigration into Ireland, one of the top rates in the EU (see below for more).
Meanwhile in the EU overall, people also see immigration (45%) as the most important concern at European level (respondents in 26 Member States, up from 20 in spring 2016), reaching its highest scores in Estonia (70%), Hungary (65%) and Malta (65). Likewise, close to a third of EU citizens mention terrorism (32%, in second position). The economic situation is seen as one of the most important problems facing the EU by one in five Europeans (20%, in third place).
Top concerns at national level
More Irish people see Housing (42%) as their top national issue than people in any other EU country, with only Luxembourg coming ahead (51% see it as the top national issue). Health and social security come next for Irish respondents (29%) with unemployment after that (24%).
For Europeans as a whole, unemployment (31%, -2 percentage points since spring 2016) was seen as the most important issue at national level. Immigration continues to be perceived as the second most important issue at the national level (26%, -2 since spring 2016). In third place, mentions of the economic situation are stable at 19%, unchanged since spring 2016 and autumn 2015.
Top concerns at personal level
In personal terms, 37% of Irish people saw the cost of living was seen as the most important issue facing them at the moment. This was followed by health and social security (22%) and taxation (13%).
Across the EU, the main personal issues Europeans are currently facing were seen as rising prices/inflation/cost of living (28%, +2 percentage points since spring 2016), health and social security (16%, +1) and pensions (15%, -1).
64% of Irish people say that the current situation of the Irish economy is ‘good’, 7th highest in the EU and up 11 percentage points since the May Eurobarometer. On average across the EU, 41% of people feel the situation of their economy is good (up 2 percentage points since spring 2016), with people in Luxembourg most positive at 90% and people in Greece least at 3%.
Free movement of people
90% of Irish respondents are in favour of “the free movement of EU citizens who can live, work, study and do business anywhere in the EU”, joint 6th highest in the EU after Luxembourg (96%), Estonia (95%), Lithuania (95%), Latvia (94%), Spain (91%). The EU average was 81% with people in Austria (67%) and the United Kingdom (68%) least in favour.
Support for the Euro
Support for the Euro is joint second highest in Ireland (and Slovakia) at 85% after Luxembourg (87%). On average 58% of respondents across the EU support “a European economic and monetary union with one single currency, the euro” in 22 Member States. Support was lowest in the Czech Republic (25%) and the UK (24%).
81% of Irish respondents have positive feelings about the immigration of people from other EU countries, up 4 percentage points since the spring, and third highest in the EU after Sweden (83%) and Luxembourg (82%). The EU average was 61% with people in Italy (42%), Cyprus (43%) and the Czech Republic (45%) least positive.
Irish people were the second most positive about the immigration of people from outside the EU at 57% (up 4 percentage points since the spring) after Sweden (64%). The EU average was 37%. Overall, a majority of respondents in 22 EU member states have a negative feeling about the immigration of people from outside the EU States (down from 24 countries in spring 2016).
Irish (and Polish) respondents (78%) were the joint 6th highest to feel they are citizens of the EU after Luxembourg (92%), Malta (82%), Portugal (79%), Spain (79%) and Finland (79%). The EU average is 67%. As in spring 2016, Greece is the only country where a majority of people do not feel they are citizens of the EU (53% ‘no’ vs. 47%). Even in the UK a majority (55%) feel they are citizens of the EU.
In Ireland, 1,006 people were interviewed for the survey between 5 and 14 November.
The Standard Eurobarometer 'First results report' published today outlines Europeans' attitudes towards the EU, as well as citizens' main concerns and perceptions of the economic situation.
The European Commission press release is available at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-4493_en.htm
The Eurobarometer report and its annexes can be downloaded at: http://ec.europa.eu/COMMFrontOffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/STANDARD/surveyKy/2137