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Europeans feeling more optimistic than they were last year

Latest Eurobarometer survey shows that people are feeling more upbeat about taking control of the economic crisis – but the Irish are one of 13 nations who worry about the impact on jobs.

Light at the end of the tunnel?
Light at the end of the tunnel?
Image: Walter-Wilhelm via Flickr.com

AN EU-WIDE SURVEY has found that Irish people are less optimistic than their EU neighbours that we’ve seen the worst impact of the economic crisis.

The findings come from the Standard Eurobarometer 75 was carried out from 6 May to 26 May this year. The survey was carried out in the 27 EU member states, the five candidate countries (Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Iceland and Montenegro) and among the Turkish-Cypriot community in the part of the country that is not controlled by the government of  the Republic of Cyprus.

It asked questions in two areas – firstly, on how people perceived the economic crisis and, secondly, on their support or otherwise for the Europe 2020 Strategy. The authors of the report on the findings say that overall, Europeans are more optimistic about our collective economic future than they were in autumn of last year.

  • Just 43 per cent (+1 on last year’s survey) of Europeans think that the crisis’s impact on the job market has already reached its peak. Ireland is one of 13 countries where a majority (60 per cent) don’t believe that to be the case.
  • When asked who is most capable to “take effective action against the effects of the financial and economic crisis”, those surveyed put the EU in first place (22 per cent, – 1), followed by  national governments (20 per cent, stable), the IMF (15 per cent, stable), the G20 (14 per cent, -2).
  • The economic situation of the EU can be improved, according to those interviewed, through education and training (48 per cent), followed by a reduction in public deficits and debts (34), by making it easier to set up a business (34), research and innovation (29), better energy-efficicency (25), better financial regulation (21), and more access to credit (20).

Support for the Europe 2020 Strategy (Europe’s strategy for growth in the coming decade – read more here) has grown, according to the latest Eurobarometer report:

Three initiatives are considered important by more than three-quarters of Europeans: “helping the poor and socially excluded and  enabling them to play an active part in society” (79 per cent important, +3 compared to the standard Eurobarometer 73 in spring 2010) and “modernising labour markets with a view to raising employment levels” (79, +3) top the list. This confirms the perceived importance of employment and the fight against social exclusion in  European public opinion. Nearly as many Europeans (76, +3) believe that a greener economy is also an important initiative.

In terms of actually achieving the economic, social, sustainable development and education goals of the Strategy, Europeans as a whole seem more confident about getting there by 2020 than they did last year. A majority think that the following goals are attainable:

  • Ensuring that three quarters of men and women aged between 20 and 64 should have a job;
  • Ensuring  that the proportion of funds invested in research and development reaches 3% of the wealth produced in the EU each year;
  • Exactly 50 per cent of respondents agree that the objective of  reducing the number of Europeans living below the poverty line by a quarter by 2020 is realistic;
  • Increasing energy efficiency in the EU by 20 per cent by 2020;
  • Increasing the share of renewable energy in the EU by 20 per cent in 2020;
  • Reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990;
  • Fifty-one per cent of Europeans believe  that the objective of reducing to 10 per cent the number of young people leaving school with no qualifications is realistic.

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