Parlemeter 2018 survey findings on the EU

With seven months to go to the European elections, the European Parliament survey (Parlemeter 2018), themed ‘Taking up the Challenge: From [silent] support to actual vote’, shows a growing appreciation of the EU by Europeans and an improved awareness on the forthcoming EP elections. This well-founded optimism expressed by a silent majority can form the core of a positive European narrative that connects its citizens, delivering a contrasting narrative to a populist clamour.

Malta, like other Member States, also participated in the survey. These were some of the findings of respondents in Malta:

• 69% of Maltese think EU membership is a good thing for Malta;
• 91% consider Malta has on balance benefited from EU membership;
• 85% are for the Economic and Monetary Union and the Euro (€);
• 51% believe their voice counts in the EU whilst 71% believe Malta’s voice counts in the EU;
• 57% would like to see the EP play a more important role in the EU;
• 62% & 51% satisfied with how democracy works in Malta & the EU respectively;
• 61% of Maltese respondents are likely to vote in the May 2019 European elections;
• 76% think immigration is the highest priority to be discussed during the electoral campaign;
• 46% hold that the EU brings new work opportunities;
• 72% of Maltese respondents declared they would vote to remain in the EU if a referendum were held tomorrow;
• 57% & 39% of Maltese think that things are going in the right direction in Malta & in the EU respectively; and
• 63% of Maltese consider Brexit to be a bad thing for the EU.

Migration issue remains a top concern for southern EU countries, including Malta (76%)
Migration has dominated the European news of the last months. The Austrian government has made this issue a top priority of its EU Council Presidency. Three years after Europe’s biggest influx of migrants and refugees since the Second World War, and although the number of migrants arriving in the European Union has sharply declined from their 2015-16 peak, divergences of opinion between EU Member States over how to handle irregular migration from outside the EU welled up again this summer. Southern EU countries in particular (including Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain) increasingly highlighted that the burden of coping with migration flows from outside the EU (including people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea by boat) falls disproportionately upon them as direct border countries. At the Salzburg informal summit (18-19 September 2018), EU leaders discussed the latest developments in this complex area. Taking note that the number of irregular arrivals of migrants had been reduced, the heads of state or government agreed to deepen their migration cooperation with Egypt and other African countries, fight illegal migration and strengthen the external borders.

Nearly all general indicators measuring support for the EU showed a significant firming up in the aftermath of the UK referendum to leave the EU and the still ongoing negotiations between the EU and the UK on both the withdrawal agreement and the framework of the future relation. The Parlemeter 2018 takes stock of citizens’ opinions should a similar referendum to leave the EU be held in their own country. The positive attitude towards the EU is clearly reflected there: With a convincingly broad majority of 66% Europeans would vote for their country to remain a member of the EU. Only 17% would vote to leave, with 17 % showing as undecided. In Malta’s case, some 72% said that they would vote to remain in the EU if a referendum was held tomorrow on EU membership

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