Survey: people reveal their priorities for the EU
The fight against terrorism should be the EU's number one priority followed by action on unemployment, the fight against tax fraud, migration, the protection of external borders and the environment, according to the vast majority of people surveyed in a special Eurobarometer. Those participating were asked if current EU action as mandated by member states on a range of different issues was excessive, adequate, about right or insufficient.
Respondents to the survey believe that more common EU action is required in the vast majority of policy areas they were asked about. The fight against terrorism (82%) and the fight against unemployment (77%) were singled out as the main priorities by people. 40% of respondents considered the risk of a terrorist attack to be high. The three measures proposed by the European Parliament that Europeans thought were most urgent are tackling the financing of terrorist groups (42%), fighting the roots of terrorism and radicalisation (41%) and strengthening control of the external EU borders (39%).
In addition 75% of respondents wanted more EU action on the fight against tax fraud, also 74% on migration, 71% on the protection of external borders, while 67% wanted to see more done on environmental protection.
The Parliament is already working on new initiatives for the priorities singled out by people in the survey. For example regarding the fight against terrorism, MEPs are working on a law that would make preparing to commit terror attacks a crime throughout the EU and they are also working on tightening up rules on buying and owning firearms. On taxation, Parliament is due to put forward recommendations to make multinationals pay a fair share of taxes next week. Parliament has also set up an inquiry committee, which will be looking into the revelations contained in the Panama Papers. Finally, as for the protection of the EU’s external borders, MEPs are set to adopt plans for an EU border control system, bringing together the EU’s Frontex border agency and national border management authorities, also next week.
In addition three quarters of Europeans (74%) believe that what brings them together is more important than what separates them. The vast majority of people also said that the EU should intervene more than at present.
In the UK fighting radical websites and illegal content online was rated as the most urgent task in combatting terrorism (42% of respondents compared with 35% in the rest of the EU). Over half of the UK respondents (55%) believed that there is a high risk of terrorism attack in their country compared with 40% of other EU citizens. They were also slightly more focused on using the experience of de-radicalised people for talks in schools, raising awareness amongst the young, and promoting dialogue between communities than other EU respondents.