The Eurobarometer published this Friday by the European Parliament, on the eve of the debate on the State of the Union (SOTEU) on September 15, confirms that European citizens consider that the EU should only provide funds to the Member States conditional on respect for the State of law and democratic principles. Specifically, 84% of Spanish respondents agree, a figure that is uniform throughout the EU, where the average support for this measure is 81%.
Respect for the rule of law is one of the main concerns for the European Parliament, as defended by President Sassoli in statements after learning of the survey data: “The European Parliament has made it clear that the European Union’s recovery funds should not reach to Governments that do not respect fundamental democratic values or that do not defend the rule of law,” he stated. “Those who systematically undermine EU values should not expect European funds,” concluded David Sassoli.
Along these lines, the Eurobarometer also reveals clear support from citizens for transparency and effective control of funds disbursed within the framework of NextGenerationEU. According to the survey, 88% of Spanish citizens agree that they should be controlled (85% on average in the EU). Parliament is immersed in the review of national plans together with the European Commission to ensure that they are used in line with the objectives of a greener, digital and more resilient Europe.
Furthermore, also regarding the NextGenerationEU funds, three out of every five European citizens (64% in the case of Spaniards) believe that they will help their country overcome the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, and 61% of Spaniards believe that they will be beneficial to face future challenges (59% in the case of the European average).
However, the Eurobarometer results suggest that there is concern in some EU countries about the actual use that national governments will make of these funds. While an average of 45% of Europeans trust their national administrations, 41% of those surveyed express their doubts, reflecting important differences between countries. In Spain, this percentage of distrust rises to 49%, compared to 40% of Spaniards who do trust the good management of funds by the Government. In countries like Luxembourg or Denmark, only 16% and 18%, respectively, doubt the capabilities of their national government.
Change of political priorities
Regarding the political priorities that the European Parliament should address, there is a change in trend compared to the previous Eurobarometer, where public health was at the top of the concerns of both European and Spanish citizens (up to 68% in Spain it was placed as the main priority).
On this occasion, those surveyed point first to the fight against climate change, supported by 43%, both of Spaniards and the European average. In the national case, concern about climate change is tied with the fight against unemployment, which already occupied second place in the spring Eurobarometer in the case of Spain and third in the European average (now falling to fourth position in the Twenty-seven, with 31%).
The other major concern collected in the Eurobarometer coincides with Parliament’s priorities for recovery after the pandemic, such as the fight against poverty and social exclusion (38% in the Spanish case, 32% in the European average). The fight against terrorism is also indicated as a priority for 31% of EU citizens (which places it in third position, equal with the fight against unemployment), while this percentage drops to 24% in the case of the Spaniards (located, therefore, in fifth position, the same as migration and asylum).
Public health does not disappear as a concern, but it falls to fifth place at the European level (27% believe it should be a priority), fourth in the case of Spain (35%).
It is worth noting that citizens of Hungary and Poland place democracy and the rule of law, which on the EU average ranks eighth, among their main priorities for Parliament (second in Poland and third in Hungary).
The vaccination strategy and the covid certificate
The results of the Eurobarometer also show that 64% of Europeans believe that the EU has played a key role in ensuring that countries have access to the covid-19 vaccine, a figure that in Spain rises to 78%. Furthermore, the responses of those surveyed also suggest a positive perception of the covid certificate: 65% of EU citizens believe that the certificate is the safest way to travel around Europe during the pandemic, a figure that in Spain rises to 73% of those surveyed.
Likewise, the percentage of respondents who have a positive image of the EU has experienced growth compared to the previous survey: in the case of Spain, it has gone from 46% to 57%, while the European average grows from 48% to 53%.