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Standard Eurobarometer 88 Autumn 2017: Europeans’ perception of the economy is becoming more positive

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This report presents the first results of the Standard Eurobarometer survey of autumn 2017 (EB88), which was carried out between 5 and 19 November 2017 in 34 countries or territories1 : the 28 European Union (EU) Member States, five candidate countries (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania) and the Turkish Cypriot Community in the part of the country that is not controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

This First results report provides a selection of data on topics such as the European political situation, the economy and European citizenship. It focuses on the results obtained in the 28 EU Member States and is published jointly with the results of the Standard Eurobarometer questions, which are set out in an annex.

The results of the Standard Eurobarometer of autumn 2017 will be analysed in the full report. The Standard Eurobarometer survey of autumn 2017 was conducted shortly after the publication of the European Commission's autumn 2017 European Economic Forecast2 .

GDP growth in 2018 is expected to reach 2.1% in the EU (-0.2 percentage point compared to 2017) and 2.1% in the euro area (-0.1). If this forecast is confirmed, it will be the first time since 2010 that GDP growth will be the same in the euro area as in the EU as a whole. In comparison, forecast GDP growth for 2018 is 2.3% for the USA, 1.2% in Japan, 6.5% in China and 3.7% worldwide.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has continued to fall: at 7.5% in the EU as a whole (-0.9 percentage points, down from 8.4% in September 2016), and 8.9% in the euro area (-1, down from 9.9% in September 2016)3 , unemployment is at its lowest level since January 2009.

Since the Standard Eurobarometer survey of spring 2017, the EU has been struck by a number of terrorist attacks: on 3 June 2017, an attack took place on London Bridge and in Borough Market, causing eight deaths and wounding 48 people. On 28 July, one person was killed and six were wounded in Hamburg (Germany). Spain was struck in Cambrils and Barcelona, on 17 and 18 August 2017, with 14 persons killed, and hundreds of wounded. On 18 August 2017, two persons were killed and six injured in Turku (Finland). On 1 October 2017, a man killed two persons at Saint-Charles station in Marseille (France).

National elections have taken place in Malta, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, and the first round of the presidential election was held in Slovenia on 22 October4 . In France, following the election of Emmanuel Macron as President of the French Republic on 7 May 2017, the general elections saw the victory of forces supporting the new President in June. In the United Kingdom, a general election was held on 8 June. Theresa May remained Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but the Conservatives lost 13 seats while the Labour gained 30. In Germany, the general election held on 24 September saw CDU/CSU retain their position as the main political force (32.9% of the vote) ahead of the SPD (20.5% of the vote). In Spain, the Catalan parliament declared independence on 27 October. The Spanish government reacted with diverse measures including the calling of elections in Catalonia, set to be held on 21 December 2017. In Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia, a journalist and anti-corruption activist was killed 16 October 2017 in a car bomb attack.

This autumn 2017 Standard Eurobarometer survey confirms that Europeans’ perception of the economy is becoming more positive, with the highest scores recorded since autumn 2007 for the perceptions of the current situations of the national and of the European economy. The feeling that the impact of the economic crisis on jobs has already reached its peak has also reached a new record high since the question was first asked in spring 2009.

Migration and terrorism continue to be perceived as the most important issues facing the EU at the moment, far above all other items. After three consecutive increases, the positive upward trend regarding trust in the EU has halted. At 41%, it still remains higher than trust in national parliaments and governments, which have both also lost one percentage point since spring 2017.

Four in ten Europeans have a positive image of the EU, this is three percentage points more than those who have a neutral image of the EU, while around one in five have a negative image. These proportions remain unchanged since spring 2017. Optimism about the future of the EU has gained a little ground since spring 2017, reaching its second highest level since spring 2011. The proportion of EU citizens who think that their voice counts in the EU has reached a new peak, after a third consecutive increase. Though the proportion of Europeans who think that their voice does not count in the EU is still predominant, it has fallen to its lowest level since autumn 2004 (equally with spring 2015).

More than half of Europeans support most of the EU’s priorities and common policies tested in this survey. Support is most widespread for “the free movement of EU citizens who can live, work, study and do business anywhere in the EU” (81%). The only exception is “further enlargement of the EU to include other countries in future years” which a minority of Europeans are in favour of, after a slight increase since spring 2017 (42% “for”, vs. 47% “against”).

Seven in ten Europeans feel they are citizens of the EU. This is the first time since spring 2010 that this indicator has reached the 70% threshold, and this opinion is shared by a majority of respondents in 27 Member States, Greece being the exception. Finally, “the free movement of people, goods and services within the EU” and “peace among the Member States of the EU” are still perceived, well before any other items, as the two most positive results of the EU.

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