Public support for EU energy policy wilts
12.07.06 @ 17:43
BRUSSELS - Despite Brussels' push for a common European strategy on energy, the latest opinion poll - seen by the EUobserver - has shown a shift in public opinion towards support for strategic decisions on energy to be taken at the national, and not the EU level.
According to a new Eurobarometer survey to be published in the coming weeks and presented as a draft to the European Commission on Wednesday (12 July), 42 percent of respondents argue that energy issues should be dealt with primarily by national governments, as opposed to 39 percent favouring Europe's institutions.
The results have been interpreted by officials as a "shift" since last autumn when almost a half of all citizens (47%) preferred the EU take key energy decisions.
The new tendency has been observed in all EU member states and candidate countries, with the biggest loss of support for a common energy project recorded in Cyprus (- 27%), Malta and Latvia (- 16%) and Austria (- 14%).
Denmark is the only exception with the number of people favouring the EU level for energy decisions having risen by 7 percent.
The most enthusiastic supporters of the idea that energy is for individual member states to take care of are the Finnish (65%), Estonians (56%), British (55%) and Swedes (55%).
On the other hand, a common European tackling of looming energy problems is viewed positively in Italy and the Netherlands (both 55%), Denmark (52%) and Belgium (50%).
The draft document has interpreted the results by pointing out that "during autumn 2005 and spring 2006, the action of the EU was not visible and that EU does not have a direct impact on taxes which are levied by member states on energy, in particular petrol for cars."
No to green energy
Europeans have also again clearly expressed their opposition to more expensive green energy.
A majority (59%) of those surveyed said they were not "prepared to pay more for energy produced from renewable sources than for energy produced from other sources."
This tendency has been recorded before but it has even risen - by 5 percent - compared to the autumn poll.
Among the 34 percent of citizens ready to pay more, 24 percent would agree to pay up to 5 percent more.
In the new member states, 70 percent of people are not ready to dole out more, but 18 percent would pay up to 5 percent more.
Among the old EU countries, Danes (22%), Luxembourgers (17%), the Dutch (15%) and the British (13%) would be willing to pay up to 6 to 10% more than at present.
Overall, a majority of Europeans prefer to change their consumption habits rather than pay more for energy, according to the survey.