Friday

18th Jan 2019

Religion and homosexuality divide Europeans

The idea of a single set of "European values" was thrown into doubt on Monday (18 December) as a fresh Eurobarometer poll exposed strongly varying attitudes towards delicate issues such as religion, homosexuality and drug use across the EU.

The survey, conducted for the European Commission, for the first time quizzed Europeans about some key societal issues which are closely related to national histories and cultures.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The study revealed a huge rift in attitudes towards homosexuality, with the Dutch (82%) followed by the Swedes and the Danes (71% and 69%) strongly in favour of allowing gay marriages in the whole EU, while only 12 percent of Latvians and equally small percentages of Poles (17%) and Greeks (15%) said they back the idea.

Adoption by gays of children is even more controversial and is okayed by only one third of EU citizens – with the Dutch (69%) and the Swedes (51%) again giving most pro-gay answers.

But North Western Europe itself is divided on the legalisation of cannabis, with Sweden among those countries showing least support for EU legalisation (9%) while the Dutch (49%), who already have liberal legislation on the issue, are the most interested in the idea.

Meanwhile, Europeans also disagree about the place of religion in society. Large numbers of Cypriots (81%), Maltese (70%) and Italians (63%) say that religion takes up a "too important" role in society – but at the other end of the scale, only 20 percent of Estonians and Bulgarians believe so.

Limits to freedom and tolerance

When confronted with the almost philosophical dilemma of equality versus individual freedom, important majorities of Portuguese (80%), Hungarians (74%) and Italians – as well as an average of around two thirds of EU citizens as a whole – favour the idea that "we need more equality and justice even if this means less freedom for the individual."

Nordic and Dutch people however showed less appetite for this trade-off, with around one half rejecting the idea of giving away freedoms.

The Eurobarometer – for which a total of 29,152 people were interviewed – also shows one notable point where Europeans all want the same thing - a tougher clampdown on crime.

Support for the assertion that "criminals should be punished more severely" ran from 70 percent in Denmark to as high as 97 percent in Cyprus.

EU constitution surprise

Monday's Eurobarometer also includes some more regular questions – such as on people's view towards the shelved EU constitution.

The survey surprisingly shows that citizens in France and the Netherlands, who last year rejected the charter, now support it.

Fifty six percent of the French and 59 percent of the Dutch said they are "in favour" of the EU constitution – a figure which appears to contrast with recent data from other surveys in both countries which suggest the opposite.

A survey for the French paper Liberation released last May one year after the referendum said that 98 percent "do not regret" their choice (54.7 percent of the French electorate voted against the charter).

A November poll by Dutch pollster Maurice de Hond said 64 percent of Dutch voters would say "no" to the constitution if asked to vote in a referendum again.

The latest poll by Mr de Hond released on Friday (15 December) however reveals that 59 percent of the Dutch could imagine voting in favour of another version of the EU constitution, with the pollster concluding that most Dutch people agree with the general idea a constitution for Europe.

German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Germany's domestic spy agency, the BfV, is to start monitoring the far-right AfD party in a move endorsed by the government, but decried as a witch-hunt by the party's leaders.

EU warns Romania over corruption amnesty

Juncker warned Romania's government not to move ahead with plans to grant amnesty for corruption, as more than 200 EU laws await decisions during Bucharest's presidency.

Romania mired in corruption woes as presidency begins

With the country's de facto leader filing a lawsuit at the EU's top court over report accusing him of corruption, and concerns of the country's rule of law, Romania's EU presidency kicked off in Bucharest to a rocky start.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us