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Eurobarometer survey shows support for stronger EU with common defence policy

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The latest Standard Eurobarometer released today shows that Europeans want to see the EU stronger and more independent, especially in the face of the current global challenges, while they are growing optimistic about the future.

Expectations for a stronger, more independent and resilient EU

More than three quarters of Europeans (77%) are in favour of a common defence and security policy among EU countries while over seven out of ten EU citizens (71%) agree that the EU needs to reinforce its capacity to produce military equipment. At the same time, nearly seven out of ten EU citizens (69%) are for a common foreign policy of the Member States. More than two thirds of citizens agree that the EU is a place of stability in a troubled world (67%) and that the EU has sufficient power and tools to defend the economic interests of Europe in the global economy (69%).

According to Europeans, security and defence (34%) is the priority area for the EU action in the medium term, followed closely by climate and the environment (30%). Health (26%) comes third, economy and migration – fourth (both 25%). At the same time, almost half (46%) of all citizens think ensuring peace and stability will have the highest positive impact on their life in the short term, followed by securing food, health, and industry supplies in the EU (28%), creating more job opportunities, and managing migration (26%).

Continued and considerable support for the EU's response to the war in Ukraine

In the face of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, almost nine in ten (87%) agree with providing humanitarian support to the people affected by the war, and more than eight in ten (83%) agree with welcoming into the EU people fleeing the war. 72% of EU citizens support economic sanctions on the Russian government, companies, and individuals and 70% agree with providing financial support to Ukraine. Six in ten approve of the EU granting candidate status to Ukraine and of the EU financing the purchase and supply of military equipment to Ukraine.

Among the most recent crises, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has had the greatest influence on the way EU citizens look at the future (42%), followed by the pandemic and other health crises (34%) and the economic and financial crisis (23%).

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The war in Ukraine is considered, in a list of fifteen, as one of the two most important issues facing the EU, totalling 35% of preferences, 7 percentage points more than in November last year. It is followed by immigration (24%), the international situation (22%) and inflation (19%). Inflation remains the most mentioned issue facing the country, at 38%, while decreasing by six percentage points compared to the previous survey.

Optimism about the economy grows

The perception of the situation of the European economy has improved since autumn 2023, with 47% of respondents now rating it as ‘good', the highest level since 2019. A plurality of citizens (45%) think the European economic situation will remain stable in the next 12 months. The positive trend is also reflected by the stable high support for the euro, both in the EU as a whole (70%) and in the euro area (78%).

A positive perception of the EU and EU citizenship

In the lead-up to the European elections, almost three quarters of respondents (74%) say they feel they are citizens of the EU, again the highest level in more than two decades. More than six in ten EU citizens (62%) are also optimistic about the future of the EU, marking a slight increase compared to the previous survey in autumn 2023. Their trust in the EU has also increased and is now at 49%, while trust in national governments is at 33%.

Nearly six EU citizens out of ten are satisfied with the way democracy works in the EU (57%) and in their country (58%). 

Background

The Standard Eurobarometer 101 (Spring 2024) was conducted between 3 and 28 April 2024 across the 27 Member States. 26,399 EU citizens were interviewed face-to-face.

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