Two years to go to the 2014 european elections 

Now that the 2014 European elections are within sight, it seemed appropriate to carry out a large-scale survey of Europeans’ perceptions of the European Union, their knowledge of the institutions and their expectations in this time of crisis.

The fieldwork for this Eurobarometer / European Parliament survey was carried out between 2 and 17 June 2012. The survey was carried out face to face with 26 622 citizens by TNS opinion in 27 EU countries.

Main findings :

  • The image of the EU is improving in the eyes of the majority of Europeans. Furthermore, and for the first time, an absolute majority says that membership of the EU is ‘a good thing’. 
    However, it must be stressed that the majority of the people questioned still think that their voice ‘does not count in the EU’, although there is a marked increase in those who think, on the contrary, that their voice does matter in the EU.
  • When questioned about European identity, Europeans believe that the ‘values of democracy and freedom’ and ‘the single currency, the euro’ are its main components, far ahead of all the others.
  • As in previous surveys, the fight against poverty and social exclusion is easily first in the list of priorities that Europeans would like to see defended by the European Parliament. And, more specifically on action to fight the crisis, they cite employment and combating unemployment more than anything else.
  • On the basis of the results, it is certainly not putting it too strongly to speak of lack of knowledge on the institutions. First of all, Europeans know only ‘very little’ about the functioning of the EU and its institutions. More than a third of them cannot name three of the European institutions.
  • Against this background of lack of knowledge, however, it is noteworthy that the European Parliament is the institution most often mentioned by respondents. More than half of them named the European Parliament first, nearly a third the European Central Bank and a quarter the European Commission.
  • To this can be added the fact that more than an absolute majority of Europeans believe that the European Parliament is the institution that ‘best represents the European Union’.
  • For more than an absolute majority of respondents, voting in the European elections constitutes the best way to make one's voice heard by the decision-makers of the EU.
  • A quarter of Europeans already know the date of the next European elections – June 2014. 
    In this connection, a fundamental innovation made by the Lisbon Treaty was tested in the survey – the new way of electing the President of the European Commission. 

    Would Europeans be more inclined to vote than they are today if the ‘major European political groupings put forward, on the basis of a common programme, one candidate each for the post of President of the European Commission’? 

    It comes as a surprise that more than one in two respondents would indeed feel more inclined to vote in June 2014 if this were the case. It would give them a sense of being involved, if only indirectly, in electing the President of the European Commission.