The latest opinion poll by Eurobarometer that was published shortly before Christmas has revealed that Europeans see social equality as the most important priority for the Europe of today. Although most Europeans oppose creating an EU economic government, they are still more concerned about the consequences of the economic crisis than anything else.
Economic issues are high on the agenda – unemployment is seen as the main challenge for almost half of the European population (45 percent), followed by social inequalities (36 percent). The economy is followed by migration issues (36 percent) and terrorism and security (31 percent), which come third and fourth in the list of concerns. Many respondents also think that the emphasis should be put on social equality and solidarity (46 percent), compared to other topics such as protecting the environment (31 percent) or progress and innovation (28 percent).
Despite these challenges, Europeans are not willing to give greater powers to EU institutions in economic governance. Only one in five said that a greater concentration of power in Brussels would be helpful for the future of Europe. Instead, most Europeans (53 percent) think that comparable living standards across the EU would be more beneficial for the future of Europe.
Even though almost 70 percent of Europeans supported more decision-making at European level to boost investment and job creation, the intervention of EU institutions was more welcome in other areas such as fighting terrorism (80 percent), promoting democracy and peace (80 percent), or protecting the environment (77 percent). Interestingly, in Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, a large majority of Germans (67 percent) support ‘more Europe’ to spur employment and investment in the economy, more than in Central European countries, which benefit the most from EU funding.