IMAGE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION RECOVERS SIGNIFICANTLY
07.08.2006. The positive image of the European Union (EU) has improved by 6 points with respect to November 2005, according to the findings of the latest wave of the Eurobarometer survey conducted by TNS Opinion & Social for the European Commission. After two consecutive falls of the EU’s positive image since November 2004, public opinion has resumed the level measured one and a half years ago (50 per cent).
The survey, which interviews nearly 30,000 people across the 25 Member States, the two acceding countries, the two candidate countries and the Turkish Cypriot Community, also shows that whilst one out of two citizens holds a positive image of the EU, one in three is neutral (32 per cent, down 2 points since November 2005) and less than one citizen out of six has a negative assessment of its image (15 per cent, down 5 points since November 2005).
Source: TNS Opinion & Social for the European Commission – Eurobarometer 65
The image of the EU is most widely perceived as being positive in Ireland (73 per cent), followed by Italy (68 per cent) and Spain (62 per cent). Across 27 territories over the 30 surveyed, the number of respondents with a positive image outnumber those with a negative image. Opinions are divided in the United Kingdom (29 % negative; 34 % positive), Austria (31 % negative; 32 % positive) and Finland (26 % negative; 30 % positive).
Public opinion is, on average, somewhat more positive in the ten New Member States, than in the EU15 (53 per cent vs. 49 per cent). Amongst the first group, there is a difference of 25 points between the country with the most favourable opinion of the EU (Slovenia, 60 per cent) and the one with the lowest percentage of favourable assessments (Latvia, 35 per cent). In the EU15, this distance is 43 points (Ireland, 73 per cent vs. Finland, 30 per cent).
The Analysis of the EU’s image is not only relevant within the EU25 but also amidst the accession and candidate countries. Results indicate a situation that is different from previous years, when the EU generally conjured up a positive image among more people in the accession and candidate countries than was the case within most of the Member States, with Croatia as the exception. The May 2006 wave shows a significant negative shift in opinion in Turkey, where the percentage of people with a positive image of the EU has fallen 17 points, from 60 to 43 per cent. In Croatia, the mood is also more critical than it was in November 2005 whereas public opinion about the image of the European Union remains clearly positive in Romania and Bulgaria.
An analysis of the shifts in the percentages in the Member States since November 2005 shows the following developments:
* Clear-cut positive developments, i.e. increases in positive responses that are mirrored by decreases in negative responses, have been reported in fourteen countries with the largest shifts noted in Sweden, Hungary and Italy. Furthermore, in Ireland, Germany, Estonia and Finland, significant increases in positive responses have been recorded and in Denmark, Lithuania and Latvia significant decreases in negative responses have been registered.
* Public opinion has not shifted significantly in Greece and Malta.
* Clear-cut negative developments, i.e. increases in negative responses that are matched by decreases in positive responses, are noted in Luxembourg and Portugal.
Marita Carballo, Global Head of TNS Polling & Social, comments: “The current Eurobarometer shows an important recovery in the image of the European Union since the last November, with half of European citizens expressing a positive image of the European Union. These figures resume the level of November 2004, after two consecutive falls. However, results show a high proportion of people in some of the EU15 States like Austria, the UK, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, sharing a negative view of the European Union. Conversely, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg are EU15 countries holding a positive image.”
Fieldwork: 27th of March to 1st of May 2006
Number of interviews conducted: 29,220 persons interviewed face-to-face in the 25 Member States of the EU, the two acceding countries (Bulgaria and Romania), the two candidate countries (Croatia and Turkey) and the non-government controlled area of Cyprus.
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