Citizens call for bigger EU budget to address Covid-19 crisis, survey shows

A slight majority of EU citizens agree that the EU should have a bigger budget as it seeks to overcome the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey commissioned by the European Parliament shows.

The survey shows that more than two-thirds of respondents (68%) believe that the EU should have a stronger role in fighting the crisis. Most – 56% – believe that this requires the EU to have greater financial means.

The initial findings of the survey were published ahead of an EU summit that is expected to be contentious, as EU leaders have shown that there are wide disagreements on the EU budget as well as on its Covid-19 recovery plan. The European Commission and the European Parliament – particularly the latter – believe that the EU should have a stronger budget to address priority measures.

Amid these disagreements, most respondents (53%) remained unimpressed with the solidarity shown between member states during the pandemic. Only 39% declared themselves to be satisfied by member states’ collective efforts.

“The results of this survey clearly show that EU citizens expect the EU to show more solidarity and take more action to assist the recovery,” EP President David Sassoli maintained.

“They also recognise the need for a larger EU budget to tackle the unprecedented impact the pandemic has had on our economy and society. In the context of the current budget negotiations, Parliament stands by the citizens in their call for a more effective and ambitious EU.”

Maltese agree EU should play bigger role

Malta proved to be no exception to the rule, with 84% of Maltese respondents believing that the EU should have more competences to deal with crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, 62% agreed that the EU’s budget should grow.

The survey suggested that the impact of the pandemic was less in Malta than in much of the EU. Around 57% of respondents across the bloc said that they have experienced personal financial difficulties, with 28% citing a loss of income. But only 18% of Maltese said that they suffered a loss of income, with 62% stating that they have not experienced any of the difficulties listed in the survey.

When asked how an enlarged EU budget should be spent, EU citizens prioritised public health, with 55% deeming it most important. This was followed by economic recovery (45%), employment and social affairs (37%) and the fight against climate change (36%).

While the Maltese joined 16 other countries in naming public health as the biggest priority, they deviated from the norm by ranking immigration issues second.