Nearly half of Romanians say the war in Ukraine has led to a drop in their living standards, and a third say they have not been affected, but expect their situation to worsen, according to a Eurobarometer poll conducted by the European Parliament.
Four in ten Europeans say they are already experiencing an impact on their standard of living (40%). As clear sign of European resilience and unity, 59% of Europeans see the defence of common European values such as freedom and democracy as a priority – even if that were to affect prices and the cost of living.
In Romania, the percentage is higher – 46%. Another 36% say they have not been affected yet, but expect this to happen. About three quarters of Romanians say they are not prepared to face rising food and energy prices.
Almost two thirds (65%) of Europeans see EU membership as a good thing. This is the highest result since 2007, when it was at 58%. EU membership is seen as ‘a good thing’ by a relative majority of citizens in all countries except Greece and Slovakia, where more respondents view it as ‘neither a good nor a bad thing’. Compared to Parliament’s last Eurobarometer survey conducted at the end of 2021, results have increased significantly in most countries, particularly in Lithuania (+20 pp), Malta (+12 pp) and Estonia (+9 pp).
52% of Europeans today have a positive image of the EU, against 12% negative. This result is an increase of 3 points for positive image since November-December 2021 and, at the same time equals the best result measured by European Parliament’s surveys since 2007. National results for a positive EU image range from 76% in Ireland to 32% in Greece.
In Romania, the percentage is lower, only 47% being of this opinion. 23% think EU is a bad thing, and 29% have a neutral opinion. Today, 52% of Europeans have a positive image of the EU, compared to 12% who have a negative image.
In Romania, the percentage is similar (51%). While 59% of Europeans say that the defense of freedom and democracy must be a priority, the majority of Romanians (62%) believe that maintaining prices and living standards should be a priority.
Russia is seen positively by only 10% of European respondents, compared to 30% in 2018, while in Romania the percentage is almost double – 18%, according to the survey.
China returns the second lowest ranking with 22% (-14 pp). By contrast, Europeans have a more positive image of the UK (65%, +1 pp) followed by the USA with 58% (+13 pp).
The increasing economic worries are also reflected in the political priorities citizens want the European Parliament to focus on: The fight against poverty and social exclusion is mentioned first (38%), followed by public health (35%), which has dropped significantly by 7 pp over the past six months, and democracy and rule of law (32%), which in turn was subject to a significant increase by 7 pp.
The perception of the war and what it means for the European Union becomes also visible in the citizens’ core values they want the European Parliament to defend as a matter of priority: Democracy again tops the list, with an increase of six points compared to autumn 2021 (38%, +6pp). The protection of human rights in the EU and worldwide as well as the freedom of speech and thought both follow on 27%.
“With war returning to our continent, Europeans feel reassured to be part of the European Union. European citizens are deeply attached to freedom, are ready to defend our values, and are increasingly realising that democracy can no longer be taken for granted,” said EP President, Roberta Metsola.