According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, Europeans are much more likely to consider that the defence of freedom and
democracy must be a priority even if it impacts prices and cost of living. Nearly six out of ten respondents agree (59%), against 39% who would prioritize price stability. This picture also holds true at the country level, where it is the majority view in twenty Member States, with results ranging from 49% in Portugal to 85% in Denmark and Sweden.
Yet in many cases, the choice seems difficult, with the difference between both answers being negligible. In some countries, price stability is prioritised by a majority of respondents: this is the case in Bulgaria (70%), Hungary (67%), Malta (63%), Romania (62%), Greece (51%) and Cyprus (51%). The choice also seems to be closely linked to the impact of the war on living
standards and readiness to face rising prices, with these countries all having a relatively low level of GDP compared to their counterparts.
Defending common values is much more likely to be mentioned by those who are ready to face food (74% versus 49% who are not ready) or energy (73% versus 50%) prices increases and by those who have not yet felt the impact of the war or do not expect to (64% in both cases against 52% of those who have already felt an impact). Interestingly, it is also more likely to be mentioned by respondents who follow news on the war closely (63% against 47% who do not follow closely).
While inflation and rising costs of living were already important issues before the war, and partially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation became exacerbated with the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Respondents were
asked about its perceived consequences on their standard of living, their readiness to accept food and energy price increases, as well as their opinion on whether it is more important to defend freedom and democracy, or to maintain prices and cost of living in the context of this war.
Only 2% of Maltese think war will not affect them
Almost nine in ten Europeans have either already experienced a reduction in living standards – which they expect to continue
(40%) or which will occur (47%) over the next year. Only one in ten (11%) do not think the war will have an impact on their standard of living.
In this case, the country results are striking: in Bulgaria (62%), Cyprus (57%), Portugal (57%), Malta (55%), Greece (49%), Spain (49%), Slovakia (48%), Romania (46%), France (45%) and Poland (45%), respondents are most likely to say that the consequences of the war have already reduced their standard of living and they expect this to be the case over the next year. In almost all remaining countries, respondents are most likely to say that they expect it to happen over the coming months. Only 2% of Maltese respondents think that the war won’t have any impact at all.