The Spring Eurobarometer commissioned by the European Parliament and carried out between March and April 2021 reflects citizens’ growing perception of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on their personal lives and financial situation. More than half of Spaniards have had or expect to have economic problems due to the incidence of the coronavirus. In total, 37% of those surveyed claim to have already suffered an impact on their income due to the pandemic (a figure slightly higher than the EU average of 31%), while 20% believe they will suffer in the future. (26% at European level).
However, 67% of Spaniards consider restrictions necessary for health reasons, since the health benefits are more important than the economic damage. This vision is shared, although with a lower percentage (58%) than the European average. This represents a change in trend compared to the data from the second half of 2020, when more than half of citizens considered economic damages to be more important.
Citizens know what the EU did last summer, but only half approve
Europeans are aware of the efforts that the European Union has made to combat the pandemic and its consequences: eight out of ten at the European level (81% also in the case of Spaniards) have heard, read or seen about these actions and around half (54% of Spaniards, 48% at EU level) know exactly what these measures are.
However, despite having information, citizens are divided in their opinion about this European response: 47% of Spaniards declare themselves satisfied with the measures, while 52% disapprove of them (48% and 50% for the entire EU, respectively). Similarly, Spain is the second country (tied with Luxembourg and only surpassed by Belgium) where there is a higher percentage of citizens (62%) who believe that the level of solidarity between the Member States to jointly combat the pandemic has not been sufficient (53% at European level).
Health, vaccines and more powers for the EU
The vast majority of Spaniards (78%) want the EU to have more powers to better manage crises like the current pandemic (74% in the EU). Regarding which aspects to prioritize in the response against the coronavirus, the Spaniards differ slightly from the European average, placing the investment for the development of vaccines (39%) above what is the first issue at the community level: ensuring safe access and effective vaccinations for all Europeans (37% for Spaniards, 39% in the EU as a whole).
Likewise, the third priority for the entire EU – establishing a common strategy to manage future crises – falls to seventh place in Spain (only 19% of Spaniards place it on their list), while third place in the case of Spain It is concerned with achieving a sustainable and fair recovery for all Member States (28%). It is also relevant that for 25% of Spaniards it is a priority to support a global response to guarantee universal access to vaccines and treatments against Covid-19.
Public health, fight against poverty and job creation
Asked about the specific aspects on which the European Parliament should legislate as a priority, an overwhelming majority of Spanish respondents (68%) consider that public health must be put at the forefront (it coincides with the main priority for Europeans, with 49%). In Spain, the other issue that arouses the greatest interest is job creation and economic support (52% say so), while the third issue should be combating poverty and social exclusion, as pointed out by 46% of those surveyed. .
At the European level, both measures to leave no one behind and the fight against unemployment tie with 39% in second and third place. Fourth place, both in Spain and at an aggregate level, is for calling for greater action against climate change (34% in the EU, 30% in Spain).
Stable support for the European Union
With some specific variations, as well as between different countries, the positive perception of the EU remains at the highest levels of the decade. 46% of Spaniards have a positive image of the Union. Only 12% have a negative opinion, while 42% declare themselves neutral (the data at an aggregate level for all countries are similar: 48% have a positive perception, 17% negative and 35% neutral ).
However, this trend of general support for the EU, combined with that certain criticism of some actions or lack thereof to mitigate the consequences of the crisis, leads a large majority of citizens to ask for reforms: although 76% of Spaniards consider themselves favorable to the EU, only 22% are “in favor of the EU as it has developed until now”, while 54% approve of the European project, but want changes. The percentage in Spain is among the ten highest at the European level, although the aggregate average reflects 70% support for the EU (23% absolute, 47% in need of reforms).
On the other hand, 19% of Spaniards consider themselves somewhat skeptical about the EU, but would change their opinion if there are major reforms, and only 3% are completely opposed to the idea of the European Union. Across the Union, 23% consider themselves somewhat skeptical and 5% are against the idea of the EU.