While the coronavirus pandemic has been impacting on European daily lives for more than a year, attitudes towards the EU remain positive, according to the latest Standard Eurobarometer conducted in February-March 2021.
The image of the EU and trust in the EU have increased and reached their highest levels in more than a decade.
Europeans citizens identify health and the economic situation as the two top concerns both at EU and national levels.
The survey also indicates an increase in concern about the current state of national economies: 69% of Europeans think that the situation is currently ‘bad’ and 61% of Europeans fear that their country’s economy will recover from the impact of the pandemic ‘in 2023 or later’.
1. Trust and image of the EU
Close to half of Europeans trust the European Union (49%), after a 6-point increase since the Standard Eurobarometer of summer 2020. It is the highest level registered since spring 2008. Trust in national governments (36%) and national parliaments (35%) have lost ground, though both remain at a higher level than in autumn 2019.
In 20 Member States, a majority of respondents say they trust the EU, with the highest levels found in Portugal (78%) and Ireland (74%).
The positive image of the EU (46%) has reached its highest level since autumn 2009, after a 6-percentage point increase since summer 2020. Fewer people have a neutral image of the EU (38%, -2), while 15% (-4) have a negative image of the EU.
A majority of respondents have a positive image of the EU in 25 EU Member States (up from 13 in summer 2020), with the highest proportions found in Portugal (76%) and Ireland (75%).
2. Main concerns at EU and national level
Almost four EU citizens in ten consider health as the most important issue currently facing the EU: 38% of respondents now mention this issue, a steep increase of 16 percentage points since summer 2020. It has taken first place ahead of the economic situation (35%, unchanged), while the state of Member States’ public finances has slid into third position, (21%, -2). The environment and climate change is in now in fourth place (20%, unchanged), while immigration, at 18% after a 5-point decrease, has fallen out of the leading trio of concerns for the first time since autumn 2014. Unemployment is in sixth position, with 15% of mentions (-2 percentage points).
Regarding main concerns at national level, health is also perceived as the most important issue (44%), after a 13-percentage point increase since summer 2020. The economic situation is in second place, mentioned by a third of Europeans (33%, unchanged), while a quarter cite unemployment (25%, -3).
3. The economic situation and the euro
Perceptions of the national economy have continued to deteriorate: only 29% of EU citizens now think that the situation is “good” (-5 percentage points since summer 2020, -18 since autumn 2019), the lowest level for this indicator since spring 2013. The proportion of Europeans who consider this situation to be “bad” has gained ground correspondingly (69%, +5).
Positive perceptions of the current situation of the national economy varies widely between EU Member States, ranging from 86% in Luxembourg, down to 7% in Italy.
Support for the euro remains very high: 79% (+4) of citizens in the euro area are in favour of the euro, the highest point since 2004, with figures ranging from 95% in Portugal to 70% in France and Austria. Overall in the European Union, seven in ten Europeans support the euro (70%, +3), the highest level ever recorded.
4. The coronavirus pandemic
43% of Europeans are satisfied with measures taken so far by national governments to fight the pandemic (-19 percentage points since last summer) while 56% are dissatisfied (+19).
The same proportion is satisfied with measures taken by the EU (43%, -2), while 49% are dissatisfied (+5). However, 59% trust the EU to make the right decisions in its response to the pandemic in the future.
More than six Europeans in ten (61%) think that their country’s economy will recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in 2023 or later. Less than a quarter think that recovery will come in 2022 (23%), and just 5% think that it will be this year, in 2021. Close to one in ten fear that their country’s economy will never recover from the impact of the pandemic (8%).
A majority of Europeans believe that the EU 750 billion euro recovery plan, NextGenerationEU, is an effective instrument for responding to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic (55%). Close to four in ten think that it is not effective (38%).
Since summer 2020, Europeans’ personal experience of measures to fight the pandemic, such as confinement, has deteriorated: a majority of EU citizens now consider that it was a difficult experience to cope with (40%, +8 percentage points since summer 2020), while less than three in ten say it was “easy to cope with” (29%, -9). The proportion who say that it was “both easy and difficult to cope with” has remained almost unchanged, at 31% (+1).
5. Vaccination against Covid-19
45% of Europeans answered they would like to get vaccinated as a soon as possible - or had already been vaccinated at the time of fieldwork, and 20% would like to do so some time in 2021. 21% would prefer to get vaccinated later. Only 12% say that they would never get vaccinated, and 2% that they “don’t know”.
In 21 countries, a majority of respondents would like to get vaccinated as soon as possible or have already been vaccinated, led by Ireland (74%), Denmark (73%) and Sweden (71%). On the other hand, less than one respondent out of five intends to get vaccinated as soon as possible in Bulgaria (19%) and Cyprus (16%).
The “Winter 2020-2021 – Standard Eurobarometer” (EB 94) was conducted through face-to-face and online interviews between 12 February and 18 March 2021 across the 27 EU Member States and twelve countries or territories. 27,409 interviews were conducted in the EU27 Member States between 12 February and 11 March 2021.
*Source: European Commission