91% believe Malta has benefitted from the EU

European citizens' campaign priorities have changed in recent years, with economy and growth topping the list, followed by youth unemployment, immigration and climate change

According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, support for the European Union continues to be strong in Malta
According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, support for the European Union continues to be strong in Malta

Maltese citizens are the most likely to believe that their country has benefitted from joining the European Union, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey. It found that 91% of respondents felt that had accession to the union had benefitted the country, followed by Lithuania and Luxembourg. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Italians were the least likely to have a positive view of the EU, with just 41% feeling their country had benefitted.

The same Eurobarometer asked respondents whether they would vote to remain in the EU if a referendum were held tomorrow. 68% of Maltese respondents said they would vote to remain, 12% said they would vote to leave, while 20% said they were unsure.

The latest EU public opinion survey, conducted in late February 2019 ad which measured public attitudes towards the EU, three months ahead of the European Parliament elections, highlighted continued strong support for the European Union in Malta.

68% of Maltese citizens also said that they would like to see the European Parliament play a more important role in the EU, with 69% of Maltese citizens saying they believed that their voices counted in the EU.

When asked about when the next MEP elections would be held in their respective countries, 73% of Maltese citizens answered correctly, again coming out on top over all the other member states, 13% were completely incorrect and 14% answered by saying that they did not know.

The themes most prioritised by Maltese voters were immigration (72%) and climate change (50%). This contrasted with the most prioritised topics across the EU, economy and growth (given a 24% importance by Maltese respondents) and combatting youth and unemployment (only 17% of Maltese respondents said this was a priority).

On average, the Eurobarometer showed that there is still strong support for the European Union.

A statement released by the European Parliament said that the Eurobarometer "reveals that despite the various internal and external challenges to the EU of the past years, the European sense of togetherness does not seem to have weakened. Continued support for EU membership goes with a strong belief (68%) that EU countries overall have benefited from being part of the EU - equalling the highest level recorded since 1983."

61% of EU respondents said that their country’s EU membership is a "good thing." This approval rate also matches a record peak measured in Parliament’s last Eurobarometer study six months ago and previously only recorded at this level after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

"Citizens’ feelings of uncertainty, partly due to the challenges experienced within the EU over the past years, have changed, as seen in the 27% of Europeans now considering that the EU is ‘neither a good thing nor a bad thing’, with an increase registered in 19 countries.

Moreover, 50% of EU respondents on average, feel things are not going in the right direction either in the EU or in their own country. Nevertheless, half of respondents (51%) believe their voice does count in the EU," the statement read.

Yet when it comes to making their voices count, in elections to the European Parliament, in February only a third of Europeans knew that the ballot will take place in May and only 5% could cite the exact dates. 35% of respondents indicated they would almost certainly vote and an additional 32% are still undecided.

Citizens’ campaign priorities have further evolved over the past six-month period. Economy and growth (50%) and youth unemployment (49%) now top the agenda, followed by immigration (44%) and climate change (43%), whilst combatting terrorism moves down to fifth place with 41%. 54% of respondents would also like to see the European Parliament’s role strengthened in the future, with a view to tackling these cross-border issues.