A large majority of the Maltese population said they were satisfied with the EU’s response to the pandemic and want the Union to have a greater role in combating similar crises in the future. In a Eurobarometer survey published today, 73% of Maltese said they were satisfied with the EU’s response, while 25% said they were not. 63% of Maltese were satisfied with the solidarity between countries.
The EP Spring Eurobarometer confirmed the robust support for the European Union throughout the pandemic – as well as the established broad consensus that global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic are best tackled at the EU level. Even more, Maltese respondents were the second most likely in Europe to agree handing over the EU with more competence with similar crises in the future. At 91%, the rate of positive responses in Malta far exceeds the EU average, which rank at 74%.
Europeans citizens identified health and the economic situation as the two top concerns both at EU and national levels. The survey also indicates an increase in concern about the current state of national economies: 69% of Europeans think that the situation is currently ‘bad’ and 61% of Europeans fear that their country’s economy will recover from the impact of the pandemic ‘in 2023 or later’.
In a press briefing organised by the European Parliament in Malta, Lawrence Zammit, Director of MISCO, who carried out this survey in Malta, described these numbers as “a strong vote of confidence in the European Union”.
Europeans are very well aware of the European Union’s efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic: eight in ten Europeans have heard, seen or read about such actions – and nearly half of all citizens (48%) know what these measures are. When asked about what the EU should prioritise in tackling the pandemic, Europeans highlighted the need for rapid access to safe and effective vaccines for all EU citizens as most important (39%). This is followed by putting more funds being made available for the development of treatments and vaccines (29%), establishing a European crisis strategy (28%) and developing a European health policy (25%).
For Maltese respondets, public health came first at 54%, action against climate change 48%, economy and jobs at 33%, while poverty and social exclusion togther with migration were mentioned joint fourth at 31%.
Despite short-term fluctuations and national variations, overall positive ratings for the EU’s image remain at one of their highest levels in over a decade. On EU average, nearly every second citizen (48%) has a positive image of the EU.
Expectations of the European Parliament
Asked concretely about their expectations for the European Parliament, citizens want their elected Members to put public health front and centre (49%). This is followed by the fight against poverty and social exclusion (39%), measures to support the economy and create new jobs (39%) as well as action against climate change (34%). In a press conference organised by the EP Office in Valletta, Head of the Public Opinion Monitoring Unit of the EP noted that public health featured in responses in no less than eleven Member States.
Citizens worry on financial situation
At the end of the first quarter of 2021, thirty-one percent of Europeans have already seen their personal financial situation affected negatively during the pandemic. A further 26% expect this still to happen. While 57% of respondents represent a clear majority on EU average, important national variations within the EU must be taken into account.
56% of Maltese respondents said that the coronavirus had or will have a financial impact on them personally. Despite this situation, an overwhelming 83% agree that priority should be given to health issues over the economy.
In all 27 Member States, there has been a fall in satisfaction since summer 2020 with the measures taken by the national government. The largest declines are seen in Latvia (21%, -56%), Czechia (24%, -47), Estonia (45%, -40), Malta
(53%, -39), Slovakia (25%, -38) and Greece (39%, -36). There have been relatively small decreases in Belgium (50%, -4), France (36%, -5), Romania (42%, -6) and Bulgaria (47%, -8).
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.