84% of Maltese say EU membership is beneficial

Eurobarometer’s latest “Parlemeter” poll finds that 88% of Maltese believe that what brings EU citizens together is more important than what separates them

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Jurgen Balzan
22 November 2016, 6:33pm
13 years after divisive referendum on EU membership, the majority of Maltese are happy with membership
13 years after divisive referendum on EU membership, the majority of Maltese are happy with membership
In 2003, just under half the Maltese electorate voted against EU membership, but 13 years later 84% believe that EU membership has on balance been beneficial.

This comes out of Eurobarometer’s latest “Parlemeter” poll, commissioned by the European Parliament in which the Maltese appear to buck the trend of growing anti-EU sentiments across the continent.

The poll found that 71% of Europeans – and 88% of Maltese – believe that what brings EU citizens together is more important than what separates them, while 53% believe that being an EU member is good for their country.

The share of respondents who believe EU membership is a good thing for their country varies widely, from 74% in Ireland to only 31% in Greece.

The poll also shows that this EU support indicator has remained roughly stable since 2009, when it was also 53%.

As in 2015, 60% of respondents overall said their country benefits from being part of the Union.
This percentage has also remained stable in “Parlemeter” surveys, from 56% in 2009, down to 52% in 2011 and up again up to 60% in the past two years.

In addition, according to 71% of respondents, there are more issues uniting Europeans than dividing them.

Elements of European identity

Among the elements of European identity, democracy and freedom remain key values for 50% of those interviewed, while the Euro declined significantly to 33% (down 6 points from 2015), particularly in the Eurozone.
Nearly one in two Europeans feels that a harmonised social welfare system would reinforce their sense of being a European citizen (46%).

More engagement needed?

Europeans feel that their voices count less and less, in particular at national level. Only 53% of respondents said that their voice is heard in their own country (-10 compared with 2015).

People do not have a positive view of the future, both in the EU, where 54% of respondents said “things are going in the wrong direction” (+13 compared with 2015), and in their own country (58%, +14 compared with 2015).

The European Parliament in the media

 The European Parliament has a neutral image for 44% of Europeans (-2 compared to 2015), while 46% want it to play a more significant role (+2 compared to 2015).

The figures are more positive in Malta with 35% having a positive image of the European Parliament and 50% a neutral one.

A significant 69% of the Maltese would like to see the European Parliament play a more important role. 60% of respondents said they had heard about the European Parliament in the media (68% in Malta) and only 32% considered themselves informed about its activities (43% in Malta).

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Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...