One year to go to the 2014 European elections

 

With one year to go until the 2014 European elections, this Eurobarometer survey of the European Parliament seeks to gauge Europeans’ opinion of the European project, the European Union and the possibilities offered by the European elections of 22-25 May 2014.

This survey follows on from our Eurobarometer survey of June 2012 (‘Two years to go to the 2014 European elections’, EP/EB77.4). The fieldwork was carried out between 7 and 23 June 2013.

The survey was conducted using face to face methods by TNS Opinion in the 28 EU Member States, with 27 624 respondents. The results are shown either for the EU28 (in the case of the new questions) or in the form of EU27 trends.

In addition, in the current electoral context, it seemed useful to provide a detailed sociodemographic analysis (attached to the synthesis). Each question is presented in terms of age, gender, occupation and euro/non-euro results. These results are presented for each Member State.

MAIN FINDINGS

  • An absolute majority of Europeans see freedom of movement and peace between the Member States as the most positive consequences of EU membership. The euro comes in third place, being mentioned by a quarter of respondents.
  • As regards the sense of identity, a majority of Europeans say that they feel rooted in a ‘national and European’ identity, while more than one third feel rooted in ‘national identity only’. There has been a slight increase in the proportion of Europeans who feel rooted in both 'national and European' identity since the survey that was conducted in June 2012.
  • The euro heads the list of key elements of the European identity, with very clear differences between the euro zone and the non-euro zone. This is followed very closely by freedom, and, far behind, history and culture.
  • The number of EU citizens who feel a sense of attachment to the EU has risen slightly. It is now almost a majority. It should be noted that national differences between Member States that are the most and the least attached to the EU reach 52 percentage points. Unsurprisingly, it remains lower than their sense of attachment to their home city/town, region or country, which are cited by close to nine out of ten respondents.
  • Moreover, a large majority feel that membership of the EU is a “good thing”. This has been true since 1973, when the question was included in the very first Eurobarometer.
  • Close to four in ten Europeans feel that their voice counts in the EU. In contrast, they are more numerous to believe that their voice counts in their country or that their country’s voice counts in the EU.
  • What do Europeans think about how democracy works?
  • An absolute majority of respondents say they are satisfied with how democracy works in their country, and more than four in ten say they are satisfied with how it works in the EU.
  • As happened last year, respondents were asked about a fundamental innovation established by the Lisbon Treaty, namely the new procedure for electing the President of the European Commission. Would Europeans be more inclined to vote today if the ‘major European political groupings present a candidate for the post of President of the European Commission, based on a joint programme’? An absolute majority say yes.
  • And would Europeans be in favour the President of the European Commission being elected directly in the near future? Seven out of ten say clearly and unambiguously that they would.
    Why? Because they feel that this would give EU decisions added legitimacy and would strengthen democracy in the EU.
  • A limited interest in European affairs today, but that is likely to grow in the future.
    • An absolute majority of respondents said they had no interest in European politics, while a little more than four out of ten said they take an interest.
    • However, a clear majority believes that, by 2025, EU citizens will be more involved in European affairs than they are currently.
  • With regard to European integration:
    • In general, more than seven Europeans in ten think that what brings us together is more important than what separates us.
    • With regard to the pace of integration, the respondents were split almost equally between those who felt that the Member States must all advance at the same pace, and those who defended the idea moving forward at different speeds.
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The EP and the expectations of European citizens

The European Parliament regularly commissions surveys on public opinion in the Member States.

This is a means of keeping Parliament in touch with people's perceptions and expectations of its work and that of the European Union generally. The surveys are also extremely useful at the preparation, decision-making and evaluation stages of parliamentary business.

Readers will find them a source of information not only about attitudes in the EU to climate change or the current economic situation but also about how people see - and what they expect from - European elections, the European Parliament and European integration in general.