This is the first survey devoted to the European Parliament and it shows that it has a positive public image. Although the Parliament, like the other institutions, is not well known, it is considered democratic and is appreciated for its unifying role. Europeans award it an important place within the EU and the majority think the European Parliament is the institution that currently has the greatest decision-making power in the EU. They also think it is the institution that should have the greatest decision-making power.
On the other hand, three out of four Europeans say that in general they are fairly badly or very badly informed about the European Parliament. This figure is almost the same in both ‘old’ and ‘new’ Member States.
For example, most Europeans do not know how many MEPs their country has and they believe that decisions are made primarily on the basis of MEPs’ national interests and not political affinities.
Also three quarters of European citizens say they do not know when the next European elections will be held. Only 10% of respondents said ‘2009’ and only 2% could specify ‘June 2009’.
Finally, the survey provides useful information on public expectations concerning the European Parliament. The policies EU citizens think should be given greatest priority are combating terrorism and climate change and improving consumer and public health protection.
Europeans also expect the European Parliament give priority to protection of human rights in the world, equality between men and women, and solidarity between EU Member States.
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.