Bulgarians are among European Union citizens who are the most positive about the EU, but ironically, more than half do not feel as if they are EU citizens.
This emerges from a new poll by Eurobarometer, covering autumn 2014 and released on December 17.
The poll also found that for Bulgarians, by far the leading issue facing the country was unemployment, while they saw the leading issue facing the EU as a whole as immigration.
Bulgarians saw the issues facing the country as, in order, unemployment (49 per cent), the economic situation (44 per cent) and health and social security (24 per cent).
Bulgarians also were among the most pessimistic about the economic situation in the country, with just six per cent willing to say that they saw it as “good”, the Eurobarometer survey found.
As to the euro as the EU’s single currency, Bulgarians were close to evenly divided, with 45 per cent in favour and 42 per cent against.
According to Eurobarometer, majorities of Europeans have a positive image of the EU in 12 EU member states, led by Poland (61 per cent), Romania (59 per cent), Ireland (53 per cent), Bulgaria (51 per cent) and Luxembourg (51 per cent), where the EU conjures up a positive image for more than half of the population.
In the Netherlands, equal proportions of the population have a positive and a neutral image of the EU (37 per cent positive, 37 per cent neutral, 26 per cent negative).
Respondents are most likely to have a neutral image in 12 countries.
In the remaining three EU countries, majorities of respondents have a negative image of the EU: Greece (44 per cent), Cyprus (38 per cent) and Austria (36 per cent).
The proportion of EU citizens with a positive image of the EU has increased in 23
countries, most strikingly in Ireland (53 per cent, +12 percentage points since spring 2014),
Luxembourg (51 per cent, +9), Poland (61 per cent, +9) and Slovakia (39 per cent, +9).
Unemployment is the main national concern, mentioned by 45 per cent of Europeans: it is the most cited item in 21 countries.
In second position, the economic situation is cited by 24 per cent of Europeans: it is the second mentioned item in 14 member states, but the only first mentioned item in none of them.
Immigration is the third most important national concern (mentioned by 18 per cent of Europeans), and it comes first in three countries: Malta (57 per cent), the UK (38 per cent), and Germany (37 per cent), after a 15-point increase in this survey following a previous 6-point increase between autumn 2013 and spring 2014.
Health and social security, mentioned by 16 per cent of Europeans, in fourth position, is the first item mentioned in the Netherlands (56 per cent).
The economic situation is seen as the main issue facing the EU: it is mentioned by 33 per cent of Europeans and it comes first in 13 member states (down from 18 in spring 2014). In
second place, unemployment is mentioned by 29 per cent of Europeans: it is the most cited
item in five countries (up from three in spring 2014): Cyprus (49 per cent), Luxembourg (44 per cent), Italy (42 per cent), Ireland (39 per cent) and Poland (25 per cent).
In third position for Europeans as a whole (25 per cent), the state of EU countries’ public finances is in first place in four countries (up from three in spring 2014): Finland (47 per cent), Austria (34 per cent), Slovakia (33 per cent) and the Czech Republic (27 per cent).
Immigration, which is now the fourth most important concern at EU level with 24 per cent of mentions, is the first item mentioned in four countries: Malta (46 per cent), Germany (37 per cent), Bulgaria (35 per cent) and the UK (33 per cent).
The way EU citizens evaluate their national economic situation varies a lot among EU countries.
In nine countries, majorities of people consider that it is ‘good’: more than two-thirds of the population do so in Denmark (81 per cent), Sweden (81 per cent), Germany (78 per cent), Luxembourg (75 per cent) and Malta (73 per cent); and majorities agree in the Netherlands
(62 per cent), Estonia (51 per cent), Austria (50 per cent) and the UK (48 per cent vs. 46 per cent for the total ‘bad’).
At the other end of the scale, the economic situation continues to be viewed very pessimistically in eight member states where fewer than one in 10 respondents believe that the situation of their economy is good: Greece (2 per cent), Spain (3 per cent), Portugal and Bulgaria (both 6 per cent), Cyprus and Italy (both 7 per cent), France (8 per cent) and Slovenia (9 per cent).
In 23 member states, including all the members of the euro zone, majorities of citizens
say they are in favour of “a European economic and monetary union with one single
currency, the euro”.
In nine countries, at least three-quarters of respondents are for the euro: Estonia (83 per cent), Luxembourg (80 per cent), Slovakia (79 per cent), Malta (77 per cent), Ireland (76 per cent), the Netherlands (76 per cent), Belgium (76 per cent), Slovenia (75 per cent) and Finland (75 per cent).
At the other end of the scale, respondents in Bulgaria are much more divided, but a majority of them now support the euro (45 per cent vs. 42 per cent).
Conversely, majorities oppose the euro in five EU countries: Sweden (73 per cent), the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic (both 70 per cent), Denmark (61 per cent) and Poland (48 per cent vs. 40 per cent “for”).
Majorities of respondents feel that they are citizens of the EU in 25 member states: this
feeling is most widespread in Luxembourg (89 per cent) and Malta (85 per cent), but substantial proportions are also measured in Estonia (78 per cent), Finland (76 per cent), Sweden (76 per cent), Denmark (74 per cent), Germany (74 per cent), Poland (74 per cent), Slovakia (73 per cent) and Austria (73 per cent).
In contrast, more than half of Europeans do not feel that they are citizens of the EU – in
Greece (55 per cent), Italy (51 per cent) and Bulgaria (51 per cent).
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)