More people are generally interested in EU policies (54%, up by 11 points since 2013) and more Europeans feel their countries have benefited from EU membership (60%, up 6% since June 2013), according to the latest Eurobarometer poll, commissioned by the European Parliament and published on Monday. The survey found marked differences among countries on all the issues addressed.
The survey, of 28,150 Europeans aged over 15, took place between 19 and 29 September, a period when refugee arrivals at EU borders and tragic migrant deaths were being widely reported in the media.
How is EU membership positive for your country?
An EU average of 60% of respondents said that his or her country benefited overall from EU membership. National differences vary widely, from above 80% of answers being positive in countries such as Poland and Lituania to 34% in Cyprus. The most popular answers to the question why being in the EU benefited a country included the EU’s contribution to economic growth (35%), its contribution to peacekeeping and a strengthening of security (32%), and cooperation between their countries and other member states (31%).
Europeans were also asked to assess whether their country would do better or worse in a range of policy areas if their country were outside the EU. As in 2014, most respondents felt that their country would not do better without the EU in all the fields considered. However, in the areas of agriculture and immigration, results varied hugely. A majority in certain member states believed that their country would do better in these areas outside, rather than within, the EU.
A harmonised European social welfare system would strengthen EU citizenship
Asked what factors would strengthen the feeling of European citizenship, a majority of respondents chose: “a European social welfare system harmonised between the member states (healthcare, education, pensions, etc.)”. Compared to autumn 2014 at EU level, the importance of this factor clearly increased (45%, +13 points). As in 2014, it tops the list of most-chosen answers.
The second most frequently cited factor is “European emergency response service to fight international natural disasters”, which has also increased in importance (28 %, +6 points). The third is “being able to move to any EU country after [your] retirement and to take [your] pension with you (26 %, -1 point).”