The EP and the expectations of European citizens 

Parlemeter 2020: A Glimpse of Certainty in Uncertain Times 

The Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened citizens’ beliefs that the European Union is the right place to develop effective solutions to tackle COVID-19 and its effects. At the end of 2020, more respondents saw things on the right path at EU level in comparison with their own country. Furthermore, nearly three out of four respondents (72%) believe the EU Recovery Plan would allow their country’s economy to recover more rapidly from the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

A new survey commissioned by the European Parliament and conducted between November and December 2020 by Kantar finds an increase of ten percentage points in the number of citizens who expressed a positive view of the EU (50%) compared to autumn 2019. 66% of respondents in this survey are optimistic about the future of the European Union.

Yet the individual outlook remains pessimistic in the face of the continuing pandemic: 53% of respondents believe that the economic situation in their country will be worse in one year’s time than it is now. Only one in five respondents (21%) believe that the national economic situation would improve over the coming year.

Likely driven by these perceived consequences, citizens formulate a new top political priority for the European Parliament: 48% of respondents want the fight against poverty and social inequalities at the top of the agenda. A similar shift also appears in citizens’ ranking of the core values the European Parliament should defend.

The pandemic and other global challenges such as the climate emergency sustain citizens’ call for fundamental EU reform. 63% of respondents want the European Parliament to play a more important role in the future, an increase of 5 points compared to autumn 2019. And while the positive image of the EU was increasing at the end of last year, so did the call for change: Only 27% support the EU just the way it has been accomplished so far, while 44% 'rather support the EU’ but want to see reform being brought about. Another 21% see the EU 'rather sceptical but could change their mind again in light of radical reform'.