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EU response to the coronavirus pandemic: Citizens' views and expectations

17-12-2020

Citizens' expectations regarding European Union (EU) policy involvement and spending in healthcare and economic growth were already increasing before the coronavirus pandemic. These rising expectations created a gap between their demands and their evaluation of current EU action. At the same time, trust in the EU is at its highest level for a decade, and higher than the average level of trust in national governments. Apart from the direct consequences for health, the pandemic caused a wide spectrum ...

Citizens' expectations regarding European Union (EU) policy involvement and spending in healthcare and economic growth were already increasing before the coronavirus pandemic. These rising expectations created a gap between their demands and their evaluation of current EU action. At the same time, trust in the EU is at its highest level for a decade, and higher than the average level of trust in national governments. Apart from the direct consequences for health, the pandemic caused a wide spectrum of financial difficulties for people in the EU. A fear of future loss of income and widespread uncertainty became the prevailing emotional status of Europeans, although the level of hope is also considerable. The EU response to the pandemic aligns with citizens' preferences for areas of priority action and spending, especially with the introduction of the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery package. However, neither the scope of EU competences, nor the flexibility of EU finances, allow for immediate and full closure of the gap between citizens' preferences and their evaluation of EU action. Citizens' evaluation of the measures implemented by the EU to combat the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences are almost equally divided between the positive and negative. In the context of the pandemic, there is a significant change of preference among Europeans regarding the size of EU financial means. An absolute majority of Europeans would like the EU to have more competences (66 %) and greater financial means (54 %) to fight the pandemic. This leads to the hypothesis that a lack of sufficient EU competences is a factor contributing to a degree of popular dissatisfaction with the EU in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Energy supply and security

28-06-2019

Energy policy is a competence shared between the EU and its Member States. Whereas the EU has responsibility under the Treaties to ensure security of supply, Member States are responsible for determining the structure of their energy supply and their choice of energy sources. EU legislation on security of supply focuses on natural gas and electricity markets, and is closely related to other EU objectives: consolidating a single energy market, improving energy efficiency, and promoting renewable energy ...

Energy policy is a competence shared between the EU and its Member States. Whereas the EU has responsibility under the Treaties to ensure security of supply, Member States are responsible for determining the structure of their energy supply and their choice of energy sources. EU legislation on security of supply focuses on natural gas and electricity markets, and is closely related to other EU objectives: consolidating a single energy market, improving energy efficiency, and promoting renewable energy sources to decarbonise the economy and meet the Paris Agreement goals. The 2014-2019 legislature saw numerous initiatives in connection with security of supply. The EU institutions reached agreement on a revised regulation on security of gas supply, a revised regulation on security of electricity supply, a revised decision on intergovernmental agreements in the energy field, a targeted revision of the gas directive to apply its key provisions to pipelines with third countries, and also new targets for energy efficiency and renewables by 2030. Parliament also adopted several own-initiative resolutions in the energy field, including one on the new EU strategy on liquefied natural gas and gas storage, which is key to gas supply security. Meanwhile, EU projects of common interest (PCIs) finance energy infrastructure that improves interconnection and supports security of supply. There is growing expectation among EU citizens that the EU will step up its involvement in energy supply and security. Whereas this view was shared by just over half of EU citizens in 2016 (52 %), it is now expressed by roughly two thirds (65 %). The EU will retain a key role in monitoring security of supply throughout the energy transition from the old system of centralised generation dominated by fossil fuels in national markets, towards a new system characterised by a high share of renewables, more localised production and cross-border markets. However, the EU would need to use a special legislative procedure if it wanted to intervene directly in determining the energy supply of its Member States. This procedure requires decision-making by unanimity in Council and only a consultative role for the Parliament. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.