Saturday

28th Jan 2023

EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology

  • The EU conducts face-to-face interviews for its main survey without immediately revealing to respondents that it is for an EU institution (Photo: European Commission)

The EU Commission on Thursday (5 December) defended the methods of its public opinion surveys in response to criticism that the low rate of responses could lead to bias towards the EU.

The commission regularly conducts public opinion surveys, the Eurobarometer, on a range of topics across the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But the response rates have decreased, and are so low in some member states that using the data presents problems and is likely to result in a systematic overestimation of public support for the EU, according to experts cited by the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information earlier this week.

In the most recent Eurobarometer survey for which response rates have been calculated, and obtained by the Danish newspaper, the rate was 14 percent in Finland, 15 percent in Germany, 22 percent in Italy, 27 percent in the UK, 31 percent in Greece and France, 34 percent in Spain, and 40 percent in Portugal.

The low response rate might cause distortions in measuring euroscepticism, according to Dagbladet Information, because citizens who are most critical of the EU tend to be less inclined to participate in an interview about the bloc.

The commission said respondents are not told in the beginning of their face-to-face interview that the survey is done for an EU institution in order to avoid such bias.

"The Eurobarometer survey is a reliable instrument to measure the state of public opinion in the EU over time," commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant said.

"There is no evidence that people that are most likely to complete Eurobarometer surveys are actually the ones that are more positive to the EU, we have not seen such evidence," she added.

The standard Eurobarometer is conducted twice a year on public opinion trends in member states and the EU, with each survey consisting of around a 1,000 face-to-face interviews per country.

Other, more specific and faster surveys, the flash Eurobarometers, are done through "ad hoc thematic telephone interviews", according to Eurobarometer.

"Eurobarometer is not a tool to collect statistics, it rather provides a snapshot of public opinion perceptions at a give time," Spinant added.

The latest Eurobarometer, published in August, found that after the European elections in May, positive associations with the EU in the European public opinion, such as freedom to travel and work anywhere, peace and economic prosperity, had increased.

It also found that a large majority of Europeans are convinced that it is better to be in the EU than outside, with 59 percent saying they disagree that their country "could better face the future outside the EU".

Trust in all EU institutions has also increased since autumn 2018, the survey found.

Some 51 percent of the respondents trust the European parliament (while 36 percent "tend not to trust"), in the EU commission 46 percent have trust, 42 percent in the European Central Bank, 40 percent in the European Council and 37 percent in the council of the EU, consisting of member states.

The August survey also said that 45 percent of Europeans (a two percentage points increase since autumn 2018) have a positive image of the EU, while 17 percent (three percentage points less) have a negative image of it and 37 percent (one percentage point increase) have a neutral image.

Opinion

EU elections: populists gained votes - but lost initiative

A clear majority, including among populist parties, agree that the EU has added value. For the pro-EU forces, it is time to clarify and consolidate our vision, without ignoring the populists' election results.

Europeans more positive about EU, survey shows

On balance, 55 percent of British respondents said the UK had benefited from EU membership. Among all European respondents, 47 percent said their voice counted in the EU.

Opinion

Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Latest News

  1. Pressure mounts on EU to coordinate visas for Russian rights-defenders
  2. Dutch set to agree to US-led chip controls to China
  3. No record of Latvian MEP's 'official' Azerbaijan trip
  4. Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters
  5. Europe continues to finance Russia's war in Ukraine with lucrative fossil fuel trades
  6. Official: EU parliament's weak internal rule-making body leads to 'culture of impunity'
  7. Red tape border logjam for EU's 1.3m 'frontier workers'
  8. Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  2. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  3. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  5. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  6. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us