Europeans perceive good equality of opportunity, but unsure about justice and political decisions

Most Europeans consider life to be generally fair, but have concerns over justice, political decisions and income inequality, a Special Eurobarometer survey has shown

The results of the Special Eurobarometer Survey will help to address wide issues on the perception of lack of fairness in work, education, health, and society in general
The results of the Special Eurobarometer Survey will help to address wide issues on the perception of lack of fairness in work, education, health, and society in general

More than half of Europeans think that they have equal opportunities to get ahead in life, the Special Eurobarometer 471 published on Monday revealed.

While 58% of all respondents feel that they have equal opportunities, there appear to be major regional disparities when answering this question, as 81% of people in Denmark agreed with the statement, while only 18% of people in Greece felt the same way.

The Special Eurobarometer 471 titled Fairness, inequality and intergenerational mobility was conducted through face-to-face interviews.

A total of 28,031 people were interviewed in 28 European Union member states.

The survey further revealed that only 39% of respondents were confident that justice always prevails over injustice – while the same percentage of people felt it was not the case.

Only 32% of EU respondents agree that political decisions are applied in the same way to all citizens, while 48% disagree.

The survey covers areas related to education, financial income, social status, and social mobility, while also addressing perceptions on migration and globalisation.

The vast majority responded that income differences are not too great (84%), but all countries except for Denmark agree that governments should work to reduce income differences.

Less than half of all respondents believe that equality of opportunity is better now than it was 30 years ago. Over 70% of people in Malta, Finland, and Ireland agree with this statement, while less than 25% of people in Croatia, France, and Greece agree.

47% of European respondents believe that globalisation is a good thing – while 21% do not think it is so.

On the topic of migration, 39% think positively of people coming to their country while 33% do not think it is a good thing.

The European Commission’s science and knowledge service – the Joint Research Centre (JRC) – produced its first Fairness Report last year.

The Special Eurobarometer survey published on Monday contributes to tackling questions of perceived fairness in a wide number of areas.

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport responsible for the JRC said that fairness is a crucial part of building a more resilient, cohesive Europe.

“Our initiatives in this area need to be based on sound evidence, but at the same time take the values and perceptions of Europeans into account. I am proud that the JRC's work is helping us increase our knowledge on both counts, making a vital contribution to our efforts to build a better Europe for the future,” he said.

More in Europe

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition

Subscribe