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SUPPORT FOR EUROPEAN UNION MEMBERSHIP IMPROVES

London, (UK), August 31st 2006 – Membership of the European Union (EU) is considered a good thing by 55 per cent of Europeans (up 5 points since November 2005), according to the findings of the latest wave of the Eurobarometer survey conducted by TNS Opinion & Social for the European Commission. 

Support to the membership of the European Union –European Union percentage

Generally speaking, do you think that (OUR COUNTRY)’s membership of the European Union is …? a good thing – a bad thing – neither good nor bad.

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 in eighteen Member States support for EU membership has increased, and in five it has remained stable.

At 13 per cent, opposition to EU membership has fallen by 3 points. Negative opinions only exceed 20 per cent of the surveyed population in Finland (26 per cent), the United Kingdom (25 per cent) and Austria (24 per cent), countries traditionally more sceptical about European integration. It is also interesting the down shift in the number of people assessing EU membership as a bad thing in Sweden: some 19 per cent hold this view – down 13 points from 32 per cent in November 2005. The previously noted cleavages in public opinion between Member States are now somewhat less pronounced:

Support to the membership of the European Union – percentage per country

Generally speaking, do you think that (OUR COUNTRY)’s membership of the European Union is …? a good thing - a bad thing – neither good nor bad.

There is no longer evidence of a clear contrast between euro zone and non euro zone countries. Firstly, Denmark has joined the list of countries where more than 60 per cent of the surveyed population supports their country’s membership of the European Union. In November 2005, this list included only euro zone countries. Furthermore, the only significant decreases since November 2005 have occurred in Portugal and Luxembourg, two euro zone countries.

The group of countries with low approval rates, which could be classified as “traditionally most apprehensive” has suffered modifications: now Latvia (37 per cent) is included in the bottom four countries together with Austria (34 per cent), Finland (39 per cent) and the UK (42 per cent). Conversely, Sweden (49 per cent) has left this group, moving up in the ranking, ahead of Malta (44 per cent) and Portugal (47 per cent).

Although the “neither good nor bad” response is relatively higher in the New Member States (36 vs. 27 per cent in the EU15), the average level of support in these ten countries is now 54 per cent – up 5 points since November 2005.

A country analysis of the shifts in the percentages since the previous wave shows the following developments:

* Significant increases in support, which are accompanied by significant decreases in opposition, have been recorded in Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Hungary, Belgium, Estonia, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

* Significant increases in support, which are accompanied by significant decreases in neutral opinions, took place in the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovakia, Estonia, Spain, France and Germany.

* In Ireland, a significant increase in support has been recorded that is not mirrored by any contrasting shifts.

* No significant shifts or only very minor shifts took place since November 2005 in Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Austria and Latvia.

* Significant increases in neutral opinions, which are accompanied by significant decreases in support, have been recorded in Luxembourg and Portugal.

* A significant increase in opposition, which is accompanied by a significant decrease in neutral opinions, has been recorded in Finland.

Marita Carballo, Global Head of TNS Polling & Social, comments: “This increased support for EU membership coincides with an improvement in the public’s trust in European institutions such as the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Union as a whole. It would seem that the European project would be presently undergoing a much positive moment after the last year’s adverse results to the EU Constitution referendums in France and the Netherlands.”

About TNS Polling & Social Facts and Figures:

The Eurobarometer report was posted at the following website on July 10 2006: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/standard_en.htm

The European Commission has made data from this report available to relevant media since it was first published. To the best of our knowledge, the findings in the attached press release have not been released.

These findings are based on TNS Opinion & Social research conducted between March and May 2006. All data discussed in the above announcement is based on the opinions of those surveyed. TNS will only support data which is published, in the context we have presented it and our own interpretation of these findings. We cannot be held responsible for any other interpretation.

As a leading information provider, TNS wants to cast new light on currently debated topics presenting data collected on a European or International basis. TNS Polling & Social Facts & Figures will be published twice a month.

Methodological background:

Fieldwork: 27th of March to the 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.

About TNS

TNS is a market information group:
* The world’s largest provider of custom research and analysis
* A leader in political and social polling
* A major supplier of consumer panel, media intelligence and TV and radio audience measurement services.

TNS operates across a global network in over 70 countries, allowing us to provide internationally consistent, up-to-the-minute and high quality information and analysis. The group’s employees deliver innovative thinking and excellent service to local and multi-national clients worldwide. In the custom business, they combine in-depth sector knowledge with expertise in the areas of new product development, positioning and segmentation research, brand and advertising research and stakeholder management.

TNS’ strategic goal is to be recognised as the global leader in delivering value added information and insights that help our clients to make more effective decisions.

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www.tns-global.com

For more information and detailed results on a country-by-country basis, please contact:

Marita Carballo, Global Head of TNS Polling & Social
Tel: +44 (0) 7739 856 902 or email: marita.carballo@tns-global.com

Leendert de Voogd, Managing Director, TNS Opinion & Social
Tel: +32 (0) 2 66 118 66 or email: leendert.devoogd@tns-opinion.com

Katie Zurita, International PR Manager, TNS
Tel: +44 (0) 208 967 4787 or email: katie.zurita@tns-global.com

Liz Kearney / Emily Luscombe, Camargue
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7636 7366 or email: ekearney@camarguepr.com


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