Preservation of human rights, freedom of expression and gender equality have topped a Eurobarometer survey of citizens’ opinions on political priorities.
Researchers for the European Parliament’s autumn Eurobarometer, which asked EU residents which key issues should be prioritised, interviewed 27,607 respondents across all 28 EU Member States between 8 October and 22 October 2019. Of those surveyed, 48% said that protecting human rights around the world should be a primary concern for the EU; with 38% in favour of prioritising freedom of speech and 38% advocating greater focus on gender equality. 32% said that Parliament should pay greater attention to addressing the climate emergency; and 31% called for targeted action to fight poverty and social exclusion.
The Eurobarometer report states: ‘The level of optimism regarding the European Union’s future seems to improve, as does the general feeling of satisfaction with the way democracy works in Europe. Europeans have clear political priorities for the institution they just elected: a majority of citizens call for concrete European action against climate change, poverty, terrorism and unemployment. At the same time, most Europeans also strongly believe that human rights, the freedom of speech and gender equality must be preserved as the Union’s fundamental values, which should continue to set the frame for the European Union’s political action.’
When respondents were asked specifically about environmental issues, the proportion of respondents who singled out climate change as the most pressing concern rose to an absolute majority of 52%; while 35% suggested the most urgent issue was air pollution and 31% highlighted maritime pollution. Nearly 60% of respondents said that the growing number of climate emergency protests taking place around the world in 2019, many of them led by children and young people, had had a tangible effect on governments’ policies on sustainability and the environment both EU-wide and at a national level. Following May’s European Parliament elections, 52% of respondents expressed overall satisfaction with the way in which democracy is conducted in the EU; and 58% said that Parliament should have greater influence over EU processes.