Crisis and economic governance V

 

This Eurobarometer survey on ‘The crisis and the economic governance in Europe is the fifth carried out by the European Parliament. It was conducted by TNS opinion between 10 and 25 March 2012, in face-to-face interviews with 26 593 Europeans aged 15 and over.

Prior to key meetings of heads of state and government on the theme of the crisis, most Europeans think that the EU has to take action to reduce public spending and boost economic growth at the same time (47%) 25 % of Europeans consider that priority must be given to measures that stimulate the economy, and 23 % are in favour of measures to reduce public spending.

The survey’s findings confirm a known trend which shows a polarisation of public opinion. Indeed, the number of people who do not have any opinion decreases from survey to survey.

Although the primary focus of the current debate between the Member States is whether or not to they should take action together, 55 % of Europeans (=) would feel better protected by measures adopted in a coordinated way with the other EU countries, while 38% (+3) of them are in favour of individual measures.

As far as the ways of tackling the crisis are concerned, there are clear differences between those inside the euro zone (61% in favour of coordination) and those outside it (43%).

Although they are in favour of solidarity, most Europeans consider that financial help for Member States in economic or financial difficulties must be made conditional on compliance with common rules (80%). They also believe that penalties should be imposed when these rules are broken (72%).

Concerning budgetary issues, some 65 % (-2) of those surveyed are in favour of preliminary consultations between European and national institutions whilst national budgets are being drawn up. Once again, there is a very big difference between those inside the euro zone (70%) and those outside it (56%) .

On the financial transaction tax (FTT) we observe, as for the other questions, a clear change in the opinion between the two surveys. Henceforth 66% of Europeans (+5) are in favour of the principle of a financial transaction tax, 73% in the euro zone and 53% in the non euro zone, a difference of 20 percentage points.

Always during these six months, we note a growing awareness of Eurobonds. Today, nearly one European in two (49 %; +7) has heard of Eurobonds. This awareness is greater inside the euro zone (53 %) than outside it (42 %).

Although most of Europeans are in favour of pooling part of the public debt of Member States, their analysis differs on the impact that this may have.

Awareness of the credit rating agencies (CRA) has also increased: 13 countries had their ratings downgraded by CRAs in the last six months. It is therefore no surprise to discover that 61 % (+11) of Europeans have heard of CRAs. Asked whether an independent European CRA should be created to counterbalance the power of the existing agencies, 67 % (+2) of Europeans were in favour. Finally, 54 % of Europeans think that in serious crisis, the CRAs should not rate countries which have been helped by other EU Member States.

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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.