Survey finds slight increase in support for EU across Europe

Unemployment tops Irish concerns as most do not trust EU or national parliament

 Irish people are more likely to trust EU institutions than their national parliament, according to the survey, with 34%  trusting the EU compared to 20% who trust their national parliament.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

Irish people are more likely to trust EU institutions than their national parliament, according to the survey, with 34% trusting the EU compared to 20% who trust their national parliament. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

Wed, May 14, 2014, 01:02


Support for the European Union has increased slightly since last year, but most EU citizens still believe their voice is not heard in Brussels, according to a closely watched monitor of public opinion.

With less than two weeks until the European elections, the annual survey by the Pew Research Centre shows a slight uptick in support for the European Union, with 52 per cent favourable towards the European Union compared to 46 per cent in 2013. However, 65 per cent of respondents believe the EU does not understand the needs of its citizens.

Citizens in seven of the union’s biggest countries, representing about three-quarters of the European Union’s population, were surveyed for the study, which also looked at attitudes towards immigrants and minority groups.

The study found that 55 per cent of EU citizens would prefer fewer immigrants to be admitted to their country, with the figure rising to 86 per cent in Greece and 80 per cent in Italy. Unemployment continued to top the list of European citizens’ concerns, with 77 per cent citing a lack of job opportunities as their chief concern, down slightly from 80 per cent last year.

Poland remains the strongest supporter of the European Union among the countries surveyed, with most Polish citizens having a positive opinion of the various EU institutions. While 72 per cent had a favourable view of the EU institutions, this compared to an average of 51 per cent across the European Union, the survey found.

Separately, a survey published yesterday by Eurobarometer, the arm of the European Commission which measures public opinion, found that 34 per cent of respondents had a positive image of the EU, compared to 26 per cent, who had a negative impression. Asked about their trust in the EU, 32 per cent said they trusted the European Union, compared to 27 per cent who trusted their national parliaments.

Voters in all 28 member states, including Ireland, were surveyed for the study which was undertaken in March. Some 59 per cent of Irish respondents cited unemployment as the main issue facing the country, compared to an EU average of 49 per cent. Irish people are more likely to trust EU institutions than their national parliament, according to the survey, with 34 per cent trusting the EU compared to 20 per cent who trust their national parliament.

However, a majority of Irish respondents said they still did not trust either the European Union or their national parliament.

Ireland was also ahead of the EU average in terms of its overall view of the European Union, with 41 per cent having a positive image of the EU, compared to the European average of 34 per cent. About 400 million citizens are eligible to vote in European elections which will take place across 28 countries between May 22nd and 25th.