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Europeans are starting to be more optimistic about the economy's outlook with more people saying that the worst of the crisis is behind us, according to the 'Spring 2011 Eurobarometer', the bi-annual opinion poll organised by the European Union (EU). A total of 31,769 people were interviewed face-to-face, between 6 May and 26 May 2011, across the 27 EU member states and in the candidate countries.
43% of Europeans think that the crisis's impact on the job market has already reached its peak, one percentage point more than in the previous survey in autumn 2010 and +15% percentage points more than in spring 2009.
Europeans are also increasingly asking for EU action and stronger European co-operation to tackle the crisis and avoid future problems. Nearly 8 out of 10 Europeans think stronger coordination of economic policy among EU member states would be effective in tackling the economic situation.
Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, commented "the latest Eurobarometer survey confirms that the European Union is gradually emerging from the crisis. People believe that the EU is taking effective measures against the crisis and we are back on the path of recovery. The survey also shows that the majority of people believe the EU is now going in the right direction. They expect the EU institutions and national governments to continue to confront the common challenge of sustaining growth and creating jobs. If we all act responsibly, Europe has a good chance of coming out of the crisis stronger than it was before."
While the general EU trend is positive, there is still some scepticism in countries which continue to face recession and rising unemployment. Differences exist between more 'optimistic' and 'pessimistic' countries. A majority of member states, in particular Denmark (68%), Estonia (64%), and Austria (62%), believe that the impact of the economic crisis on the job market has already reached its peak. The opposite opinion is seen in countries struggling with the crisis, such as Portugal (80%) and Greece (78%).
Europeans continue to broadly support the idea of being stronger by working together. 79% (+2%age points from autumn 2010) are in favour of a stronger coordination of economic policy among all the EU member states, 78% (+3) are in favour of a closer supervision by the EU when public money is used to rescue banks and financial institutions, 78% (+3) think that a stronger coordination of economic and financial policies among the countries of the euro area would be effective, 77% (+2) support a closer supervision by the EU of the activities of large financial groups and 73% (+2) think that a more important role for the EU in regulating financial services would be effective.
Citizens also continue to see the EU as the most effective actor, ahead of national governments, in tackling the effects of the economic crisis. The EU remains in first place (22%, -1) and is closely followed by the national governments (20%, unchanged). The G20 (14%, -2) has lost third place to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (15%, unchanged). The United States (7%, +1), for the third consecutive time since the Spring 2010 Eurobarometer, lags behind international organisations.
Public support for Europe 2020 Strategy
Regarding the Europe 2020 Strategy, which sets out a series of initiatives to enhance growth and create jobs (IP/10/225), Europeans rated all seven initiatives as 'important'. Support was the highest for helping the poor and socially excluded and enabling them to play an active part in society (79%, +3), modernising labour markets, with a view to raising employment levels (79%, +3) and supporting an economy that uses less natural resources and emits less greenhouse gas (76%, +3). The majority of Europeans also believe that the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, fostering innovation and increasing competitiveness, are realistic and can be achieved.
Finally, a majority of Europeans are optimistic about the future, saying that the Europe 2020 Strategy puts the EU on the right track: 46% (unchanged). They share the view that the EU is going in the right direction to exit the crisis and face new world challenges. This view is shared by net majorities of 46% or more in 21 of the 27 member states.
The EU27 includes Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), the Czech Republic (CZ), Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), Estonia (EE), Ireland (IE), Greece (EL), Spain (ES), France (FR), Italy (IT), Cyprus (CY), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (LU), Hungary (HU), Malta (MT), the Netherlands (NL), Austria (AT), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Romania (RO), Slovenia (SI), Slovakia (SK), Finland (FI), Sweden (SE) and the United Kingdom (UK).
Candidate countries: Croatia (HR), Iceland (IS), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MK), Montenegro (ME) and turkey (TR).
To read the full report please click here