Trust in EU governments falls amid pandemic, steady in EU as a bloc

Trust in EU governments falls amid pandemic, steady in EU as a bloc

European Union citizens’ support for their national governments has fallen sharply since the Covid-19 pandemic began, although the supranational bloc itself has maintained trust, a survey by an EU agency published on Thursday showed.

The survey by Eurofound, the EU agency for improving living and working conditions, showed that citizens in 26 of the 27 EU countries had less faith in their national governments than when Covid-19 lockdowns began in March last year. The exception was Denmark, where sentiment was steady.

The study also found that trust in the bloc itself was generally higher than for national governments even after sharp criticism of the executive European Commission over delays to Covid-19 vaccine procurement and delivery.

Eurofound said the survey was based on three rounds of polling based on an overall sample of 138,629 people.

After improving last summer when the bloc approved its multi-billion-euro recovery plan, trust in the EU as an organisation fell slightly in February and March from a year earlier.

Most recently, people in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece and Poland registered much lower support for their governments than a year ago.

Austria, whose government was initially praised for its handling of the pandemic but then faced criticism over its vaccine purchases, saw one of the biggest falls in support over the past year, the survey found.

Denmark and Finland were the countries with the highest trust in the national government.

The study confirmed a historical trend that Europeans trust the EU as a organisation more than their national governments.

Citizens in France, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Spain said they trusted the EU more now than at the start of the pandemic, although support fell in Germany, the EU’s most powerful member.

Fourteen months after the first Covid-19 cases were recorded in the EU, Eurofound warned that rising inequality and fatigue could lead to instability if more is not done to help Europeans.

“Failing to prevent the rise of economic and social inequalities among citizens and member states risks … triggering political discontent against the European social contract that binds all of us together,” the survey said. [Reuters]

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