The latest European Parliament survey shows that support for the EU remains high at a time when more than half of Europeans have perceived the economic impact of covid-19
The spring Eurobarometer commissioned by the European Parliament and carried out between March and April 2021 reflects the growing perception by citizens of the impact that the covid-19 pandemic is having on their personal life and financial situation. More than half of Spaniards have had or anticipate having economic problems due to the incidence of the coronavirus. In total, 37% of those surveyed claim to have already suffered an impact on their income due to the pandemic [a figure somewhat higher than the EU average, of 31%], while 20% believe that they will suffer it in the future [26% at the European level].
However, 67% of Spaniards consider the restrictions necessary for health reasons, since the health benefits are more important than the economic damage. This view is shared, although with a lower percentage [58%] than the European average. This represents a change in trend compared to the data of the second half of 2020, when more than half of the citizens considered economic damage to be the most important.
Citizens know what the EU did last summer, but only half approve of it
Europeans are aware of the efforts made by the European Union to combat the pandemic and its consequences: eight out of ten at the European level [81% also in the case of Spaniards] have heard, read or seen about these actions and around half [54% of Spaniards, 48% at the EU level] know exactly what these measures are.
However, despite having information, citizens are divided in their opinion about this European response: 47% of Spaniards declare themselves satisfied with the measures, while 52% disapprove of them [48% and 50% for the whole of the EU, respectively]. Similarly, Spain is the second country [tied with Luxembourg and only surpassed by Belgium] where there is a higher percentage of citizens [62%] who believe that the level of solidarity between the Member States to jointly combat the pandemic has not been sufficient [53% at the European level].
Health, vaccines and more skills for the EU
The vast majority of Spaniards [78%] want the EU to have more powers to better manage crises such as the current pandemic [74% in the EU]. Regarding which aspects to prioritize in the response against the coronavirus, Spaniards differ slightly from the European average, placing investment for the development of vaccines [39%] above what is the first issue at the community level: ensuring safe access and effective for vaccines for all Europeans [37% for Spaniards, 39% in the EU as a whole].
Similarly, the third priority for the entire EU – establishing a common strategy to manage future crises – falls to seventh place in Spain [only 19% of Spaniards place it on their list], while third place in the case of Spain it is up to achieving a sustainable and fair recovery for all Member States [28%]. It is also relevant that for 25% of Spaniards it is a priority to support a global response to guarantee universal access to vaccines and treatments against covid-19.
Public health, fight against poverty and job creation
Asked about the specific aspects on which the European Parliament must legislate as a priority, an overwhelming majority of Spanish respondents [68%] consider that public health must be put at the forefront [it coincides as the main priority for Europeans, with 49%]. In Spain, the other issue that arouses the most interest is job creation and economic support [52% say this], while the third issue should be to combat poverty and social exclusion, as pointed out by 46% of those surveyed .
At the European level, both the measures to leave no one behind and the fight against unemployment tie with 39% for second and third place. The fourth place, both in Spain and at the aggregate level, is to request greater action against climate change [34% in the EU, 30% in Spain].
Stable support for the European Union
With some occasional variations, as well as between different countries, the positive perception of the EU remains at the highest levels of the decade. 46% of Spaniards have a positive image of the Union. Only 12% have a negative opinion, while 42% declare themselves neutral [the data at the aggregate level for all countries are similar: 48% have a positive perception, 17% negative and 35% neutral ].
However, this trend of general support for the EU, combined with that certain criticism of some actions or lack of them to mitigate the consequences of the crisis, leads a large majority of citizens to ask for reforms: although 76% of Spaniards It is considered favorable to the EU, only 22% are “in favor of the EU as it has developed so far”, while 54% approve the European project, but want changes. The percentage in Spain is among the ten highest at the European level, although the aggregate average reflects 70% support for the EU [23% absolute, 47% in need of reforms].
On the other hand, 19% of Spaniards consider themselves somewhat skeptical about the EU, but would change their opinion if there are far-reaching reforms, and only 3% are directly opposed to the idea of the European Union. Across the Union, 23% consider themselves somewhat skeptical and 5% are against the idea of the EU.
European Union [EU], Spain