Europeans broadly support the initiatives for growth, stability and jobs put forward by the EU, according to the Spring 2012 Eurobarometer, the bi-annual opinion poll organised by the European Commission. As we move into the second half of the year, where – after the “European Semester” – the onus is now on Member States to act, modernising labour markets to create jobs and helping the poor and socially excluded are seen as the most important priorities by public opinion in the EU. The latest poll also shows Europeans say the headline targets agreed by the EU – such as ensuring three quarters of working age people have jobs – are at the right level of ambition (see Annex). People’s views on the Europe 2020 strategy – which is the EU’s growth strategy – are encouraging, particularly in relation to the importance of the initiatives and the level of ambition. Overall, 40% of Europeans (+2 percentage points) take the view that the EU is heading in the right direction to emerge from the crisis and face new global challenges.
Although there are significant variations between countries, there are signs that Europeans are becoming less pessimistic, with more people saying that the worst of the crisis is behind us. 30% of Europeans think that the crisis’ impact on the job market has already reached its peak (a rise of 7 points since the previous survey in autumn 2011).
More than 8 out of 10 Europeans think EU Member States should work more closely together as a result of the crisis and more than half believe the EU will emerge stronger in the long term.
As in previous surveys, responses about the situation of national economies differ widely between Member States. While over three quarters of people in Sweden, Luxembourg and Germany say the economic situation is good, less than 5% share this view in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece. Overall, in the last 6 months, the views on the current situation of the national economy have remained stable, with positive feedback (down by 1 to 27%) and negative feedback (unchanged at 71%).
Citizens continue to see the EU as the most effective actor – alongside national governments – in tackling the effects of the economic crisis. As usual, Eurobarometer shows the similarities and differences between public opinion in the EU Member States in relation to peoples’ main concerns (unemployment, inflation and the economic situation). Here to read more.