More than six in 10 Bulgarians believe that European Union action is insufficient when it comes to health and social security, migration, the fight against terrorism and the fight against unemployment.
This is according to the results of an EU-wide Eurobarometer survey, the results of which were released on September 18 2018.
A report on the survey said that the percentage of Bulgarians who saw EU action on health and social security was unchanged from a previous survey in 2016.
The other three areas that record a high level of dissatisfaction vis-a-vis the EU action: the issue of migration (64 per cent), the fight against terrorism (61 per cent) and the fight against unemployment (61 per cent). “It is worth noting though that while the majority still consider the EU action insufficient in these fields, this opinion is shared by a much smaller group of people than in 2016.”
Next to the health and social security, Bulgarians clearly expect the EU intervention to be reinforced in most areas, above all in the fight against terrorism (79 per cent), the fight against unemployment (75 per cent), the issue of migration (73 per cent), the protection of external borders (71 per cent) and the fight against tax fraud (70 per cent).
There are not many differences when looking at the results by gender and no distinctive pattern when analysing the occupation of respondents, the Eurobarometer report said. However, age has an impact on the results: across all the policy areas the 15-24 years olds are much more likely to consider the EU action “about right “then those aged 55+ years old.
Over the past two years in Bulgaria there has been a rising awareness of what the EU is doing for its citizens in several policy domains, notably in areas related to security, the report said.
Comparing results from 2016 with 2018, the share of Bulgarians who believe that the EU action is about right has increased in 13 out of the 15 policies tested in the survey. This is particularly the case for the security and defence policy (+19), the protection of external borders (+18), the foreign policy (+16) and the fight against terrorism (+15).
“Despite the overall positive evolution, only in five areas most Bulgarians believe that the EU is currently adequate: equal treatment of men and women (54 per cent) the promotion of democracy and peace in the world (53 per cent), environmental protection (45 per cent), agriculture (43 per cent), and foreign policy (42 per cent).”
Overall across the EU, Europeans expect the EU to do more in a range of policy areas, especially on terrorism, unemployment and the environment, according to the 2018 Eurobarometer survey.
Asked whether the EU should do more or less across 15 major policy areas from economic policy through migration to gender equality, an absolute majority of respondents (more than 50 per cent) consistently answered that they expect more EU action.
The fight against terrorism, the fight against unemployment and the protection of the environment are the three policy areas where at least three-quarters of respondents call for more EU intervention in the future.
On key issues such as terrorism, migration and unemployment, more Europeans still consider the actions of the EU insufficient rather than adequate, but satisfaction is increasing:
Fight against terrorism – 32 per cent of respondents consider EU has done enough, up from 23 per cent in April 2016; 57 per cent consider EU actions as insufficient, down from 69 per cent
Migration – 26 per cent consider EU has done enough, up from 19 per cent in April 2016; 58 per cent consider EU actions as insufficient, down from 66 per cent
Unemployment – 29 per cent consider EU has done enough, up from 23 per cent in April 2016; 59 per cent consider EU actions as insufficient, down from 69 per cent
On other issues such as gender equality, energy supply, industrial policy and agriculture, there are more people who consider EU actions sufficient than those who think they are insufficient.
Results vary substantially among countries. On the fight against unemployment, 27 per cent of the Czech respondents find the EU actions inadequate, but this opinion is shared by 92 per cent of the Greeks.
A clear majority of Europeans want the EU countries to act jointly on the international stage. About 7 out of 10 respondents think that EU countries working together is the right response to the increasing power and influence of Russia (71 per cent) and of China (71 per cent), the instability of the Arab-Muslim world (71 per cent) and the presidency of Donald Trump in the US (68 per cent).
The findings announced on September 18 come from a Eurobarometer survey carried out in April 2018 for the European Parliament and follow a first report published in May.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)