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Survey: more and more people take notice of benefits provided by EU membership

65% of Latvian residents believe the country’s membership in the European Union has brought tangible benefits. A similar opinion was voiced by 64% of residents of all EU member states in the Eurobarometer study performed by the European Parliament.

When asked to assess their country’s membership in EU, 47% of Latvian respondents said it is a good thing.

Latvian neighbours are more confident about EU benefits, however. 81% in Estonia and 88% in Lithuania believe membership is beneficial to their countries. Only Malta’s and Ireland’s residents are even more positive about membership in EU than Lithuanians.

When asked about benefits from Latvia’s membership in EU, 49% of Latvian residents mentioned new employment opportunities; 38% mention that membership has improved Latvia’s economic development, whereas 31% are confident that EU has also improved the country’s external security. Among the most common responses of EU residents are economic growth (36%), peace and security and cooperation with other EU member states (30% for both).

EP President Antonio Tajani comments: «The result of the survey is very positive and encouraging. It shows that the confidence in our institutions and our work continues to grow and that we are leaving the crisis of recent years behind. Naturally, in some areas, views vary from member state to member state. This should inspire us to step up our efforts to tackle the concerns expressed.»

He continues: «In general, people increasingly see the EU as a key player in tackling the big challenges and protecting them against common threats such as terrorism, unemployment or poverty and exclusion. For us, as the people’s Parliament, that means we need to deliver and that we will work even harder to fulfil people’s hopes and expectations. I also take the results of the survey as a mandate for the European Parliament to increase its key role in shaping the EU’s future. The best forum for debate on what the EU should look like, what tasks it should perform, or what powers it should have, is here, in the European Parliament.»

Commenting on EP’s priorities as the EU legislator, 55% of Latvian residents and 41% of all other European member states believe that the parliament should focus on combating poverty and social exclusion. Other major points of interest include fight against terrorism (41% in EU and 28% in Latvia) and youth unemployment (31% in EU and 38% in Latvia).

People in Latvia and EU noted that the most important values EP should defend are human rights (56% in EU and 62% in Latvia), freedom of speech (34% in EU and 37% in Latvia), solidarity among EU member states (28% in EU and 34% in Latvia), as well as equality between men and women (32% in EU and 14% in Latvia).

A year and a half before the upcoming 2019 spring EP elections, 57% of Latvian and European residents said they are interested in EU matters. In addition, the number of people for whom the European Parliament, one of the central legislators in the European Union, is associated with positive emotions has grown considerably in the past year (25-33% in EU and 14-25% in Latvia).

55% of all Europeans noted that they are interested in the upcoming EP elections (39% in Latvia). Still, Latvians remain rather sceptical about the weight of their votes: only 22% of Latvians believe their votes in EU have weight (47% in EU).


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