Saturday

6th Jun 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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.

EU Commission aspires for treaty change on health

The European Commission has proposed a €9.4bn stand-alone programme dedicated to health known as EU4Health. The proposal is touted as a first step towards a possible Treaty change when it comes to health.

News in Brief

  1. Poland accused of 'blatant violation' of EU court injunction
  2. EU concerned by US approach to Kosovo and Serbia
  3. City morgues cast doubt on Putin's virus data
  4. ECB increases pandemic stimulus to €1.35 trillion
  5. New EU cloud computing platform 'moonshot'
  6. City of Berlin passes anti-discrimination law
  7. Iran hits record corona cases in second wave
  8. EU job losses tell tale of pandemic damage

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration
  2. Internal EU borders open by 15 June - bar V4, Portugal, Spain
  3. CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find
  4. After Covid-19, deserted Venice struggles to survive
  5. Commission plans strategy to 'maximise' vaccine access
  6. How spies use women to steal EU secrets
  7. Hong Kong - when the Chinese Dream became a nightmare
  8. Right of reply: Letter from the Hungarian government

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us