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4th Mar 2024

More trust in EU than national governments amid pandemic

  • Polish, Croatian, Bulgarian and Czech Republic citizens have the lowest trust in their national governments, the survey found (Photo: Peter Teffer)

Most Europeans are not satisfied with the measures the EU has taken to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, and they would like the bloc to have more competencies to deal with such a crisis in the future, according to a new survey published on Thursday (3 June).

Nevertheless, the image of the EU and trust in the 27-nation bloc remains strong and steadily increasing - while Europeans' support for their national governments has plummeted since the pandemic began.

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The discontent about the EU's handling of the pandemic could be related to several factors, including the sluggish vaccine roll-out earlier this year, the patchwork of travel measures across the bloc, or the slow implementation of the recovery funds.

But the new Eurobarometer poll revealed that a clear majority of Europeans are in favour of the EU overall - with the highest support recorded in Portugal, Ireland, Estonia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

France is the most eurosceptic member state, followed by Italy and Romania. Only 15 percent of French and Italian citizens say they support the EU as it is.

Other negative views are recorded in Austria (where 39 percent of the respondents oppose the idea of the EU or are sceptical towards it), Latvia (37 percent) and Greece (35 percent).

However, on average, less than one-in-ten respondents across all member states say that they are opposed to the idea of the European project.

Overall, only a quarter of respondents support the EU "as it has been realised so far" - with nearly half of citizens calling for reforms.

Europeans cited the rapid access to safe and effective vaccines for all EU citizens as the main priority for tackling the pandemic - followed by increasing investment in treatments and vaccines, establishing an EU-wide crisis strategy and developing a common health policy.

When asked concretely about their expectations of the European Parliament, they want MEPs to prioritise public health policies.

This is followed by the fight against poverty and social exclusion, measures to support the economy and labour market, as well as action against climate change.

Trust in national governments falls

Meanwhile, a separate survey by Eurofound, the EU agency monitoring living and working conditions, shows that Europeans' trust in their national governments has plummeted since the pandemic began.

The e-survey shows that trust in the bloc itself was generally higher than for national governments - despite criticism of the European Commission over the slow delivery of Covid-19 vaccines earlier this year.

In nearly all EU countries, citizens have now less faith in their national governments than when the lockdowns and other restrictive measures began in March 2020 - with the exception of Denmark.

Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic are the countries with the lowest trust in national governments.

"Failing to prevent the rise of economic and social inequalities among citizens and member states risks undermining even more the already weak trust of Europeans in their institutions, as well as triggering political discontent against the European social contract that binds all of us together," the survey said.

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