Bulgarians Feel the Least that they are Part of the EU Compared to All Other Members

Novinite Insider » OPINIONS | February 21, 2019, Thursday // 11:58| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: Bulgarians Feel the Least that they are Part of the EU Compared to All Other Members

In Bulgaria, 51% of people feel they are citizens of the European Union. By this indicator, the country is the last in the bloc, according to Eurobarometer 90.3, held late last year. A total of 47% of Bulgarians say they do not feel citizens of the Union, reports Dnevnik. 

Ahead of Bulgaria are Greece (52 against 48 per cent), the Czech Republic (56 against 43 per cent) and the United Kingdom (58 against 40 per cent). At the opposite end of the scale is Luxembourg, where 89% of people feel EU citizens against 9% of the opposite, followed by Germany (86% vs. 13%) and Ireland (85% vs. 15%).

Bulgaria maintains the tendency of people's trust in the EU to be above the average for all members of the community. A little more than half (53%) of Bulgarians over the age of 15 declare their trust in the European Union - 9 percentage points above the EU-28 average. This is the result of Eurobarometer 90.3, held late last year. There is a slight decline of 3 percentage points compared to Eurobarometer wave 89, registered in the spring of 2018, from 56% to 53%.

It can be assumed that the higher confidence in the EU reported in the previous survey is largely due to the positive public moods associated with the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (January-June 2018).

A high degree of trust in the European Union is:

Nearly two thirds of young Bulgarians (65% of 15-24 year olds and 62% of 25-39 year olds), about half of middle-aged people (52% of 40-54 year olds) and 46% of people over 55 years;

- 67% of graduates and about 47% of people with secondary education;

- 81% of people supporting the idea of ​​a single European currency and 38% of those who insist on maintaining our national currency;

- 75% of those who think they share "right" political views, 59% of those who are positioned in the "center" of the political spectrum, and 42% of people with "left" political convictions.

Bulgarians have greater confidence in supranational institutions than in national ones. It is noteworthy that the share of Bulgarians who trust the most important national institutions - executive (22%), judicial (19%) and legislative (13%) - is significantly lower than that of other European citizens (35% at EU-28 level), parliament (35% at EU-28 level) and the judiciary (51% at EU-28 level) in their countries.

At EU-28 level, Bulgaria has the lowest degree of confidence in the legislative power - the National Assembly (13%) - almost three times below the average European level (35%). The results show that 80% of the Bulgarian citizens do not trust the national parliament, as the country is alongside Greece (84%), Lithuania (79%), the Czech Republic (78%) and Croatia (77%).

In Bulgaria, 22% say they have confidence in the national executive rule, ranking it among the four countries with the lowest degree of confidence - Spain (19%), Croatia (19%) and Greece (14%).

A total of 67% of Bulgarians do not trust the national government, ranking eighth in the EU - after Greece (84% mistrust), Spain (76%), Croatia (76%), Romania (72%), Slovenia %), France (69%) and the Czech Republic (68%).

The future of the EU

The bulk of Bulgarians (57%) and Europeans (58%) share optimistic views on the future of the European Union. Compared to spring data at EU-28 level, there is no significant change, but in Bulgaria there is a decline of 4 percentage points in the share of optimists. Bulgaria's positive expectations for the future of the EU are decreasing as the age increases - 73% of those born after 1980 (15-39 year olds), 57% of 40-54 year olds and 45% of people over the age of 55 are optimistic.

According to the subjective assessment of political views, clearly differentiated camps are also distinguished - 82% of the people who share "right" political beliefs are optimistic about the future of the EU, 63% of the "center" of the political axis and 40% of the left "thinkers.

About a quarter think that Bulgaria is moving in the right direction. Their share compared with the one recorded in the spring of 2018 remains within the same limits. However, the figures show an increase in the pessimistic sentiments of Bulgarians on the direction of development in Bulgaria - 59% at present compared to 54% in the spring of 2018

In the context of Brexit, 55% of our country's residents are of the opinion that the situation in Bulgaria may deteriorate if, hypothetically, it remains outside the EU. The opposite pole is about a quarter of the Bulgarians, according to which the state could do better in the future outside the EU.

Compared to European citizens, Bulgarians are significantly more skeptical about a number of economic aspects in their country. Critical views of the situation in Bulgaria as a whole are predominant - if, in the spring of 2018, 65% of Bulgarians have put a negative assessment of the state, in the autumn their share has increased by 7 percentage points. At the same time, at the EU-28 level, the negative assessment on this issue is inherent in 48% of European citizens.

The share of Bulgarians sharing skeptical views on the state of the Bulgarian economy (72%) remained unchanged compared to the spring 2018 figures and was considerably higher than that of Europeans with a critical assessment of their countries' economies (49%). For the situation of the European economy as a whole compared to other European citizens (49%), Bulgarians share more optimistic views (54%).

Unemployment is the most acute problem at the European level (23%) and is most pronounced in Greece (52%), Spain (52%) and Italy (49%). In Bulgaria, 15% of people report unemployment among the most significant problems for the state.

Inflation is among the most serious problems facing Bulgaria, according to Bulgarian citizens aged 15 and over (48%), followed by the unsatisfactory state of the health and the health insurance system (32%) and the economy as a whole (26%). It is the fears  of Bulgarians about inflation and the rise in the cost of living, which is the most tangible growth - if in the spring of 2018 35% have highlighted this problem, in the autumn their share is 48%. It is noteworthy that this value is more than twice as high as the EU average of 28-21%. According to the Bulgarian citizens, the condition of the Bulgarian healthcare is also getting worse - data are up 4 percentage points among people who share criticism about the healthcare system in the country. The share of Bulgarians who share concerns about the state of healthcare in the country (32%) is significantly higher than the registered data at the European level (20%).

Values ​​in the EU

The majority of European (53%) and Bulgarian citizens (61%) understand and perceive the European Union as a freedom for travel, training, work and life within a single community.

In both Bulgaria and the EU, the EU is perceived more often in a positive tone - in terms of freedom, peace, democracy and prosperity than in the negative light of bureaucratic burden, money wasting, uncertain external borders, growth of crime and loss of national and cultural identity. Nevertheless, in Bulgaria there is a certain increase in the public perceptions of the European Union in the negative aspects:

- "insufficient control at the external borders" for 16% of Bulgarians (up 5 percentage points compared to the spring of 2018),

- "wasting money" - for 16% (13% in the spring),

- "bureaucracy" - 14% (growth by 3%),

- "Loss of our cultural identity" - for 14% (growth of 2%),

- "Greater crime" - 13% (2% growth).

The share of positive attitudes in Bulgaria towards non-EU immigrants (15%) is almost three times lower than the EU-28 average.

The share of Bulgarians who favorably protectionist is down from 32% to 27% compared to the spring of 2018. At the EU-28 level, there is also a decline in positive perceptions of protectionism compared to spring data - from 39% to 37%.

In Bulgaria, the share of positive assessments of globalization as an idea of ​​economic and cultural integration has also seen a tangible drop from 47% to 39%. However, the results contrasted with those at the European level, where growth was recorded by 2 percentage points - to 51%. Compared to the EU-28 average (61%), in Bulgaria the share of people who think globalization is an opportunity for economic growth (48%) is clearly lower.

EU priorities

At EU-28, the most acute problems facing the EU are currently immigration (40%), the threat of terrorism (20%), the worsened economic situation (18%), the risks of climate change (16%).

According to Bulgarians, the most serious problems facing the European Union are immigration (growth compared to spring - from 46% to 51%), the threat of terrorism (a drop from 42% to 33%) and inflation and rising living costs % to 14%).

The most noticeable differences between the public opinion in Bulgaria and the Middle European level stand out for the creation of a European Economic and Monetary Union with a common currency. At EU-28, support for a common currency is 62%, while in Bulgaria - 35%. Every second Bulgarian (52%) shares skeptical views about the common European currency. In this respect, the country falls into the skeptics' niche for the idea of ​​a single currency for the European Economic and Monetary Union - alongside the Czech Republic (74%), Sweden (65%), Denmark (61%), Britain (59%), Croatia (56%) and Poland (54%). The support for a single currency system is highest in the euro area countries - Slovenia (86%), Estonia (85%), Luxembourg (85%), Belgium (84%), Ireland (84%), Finland 82%), Germany (81%), and so on.

The share of Bulgarian citizens (51%), which support the enlargement of the EU by accepting other countries in the future, is significantly higher than the European average (43%).

The highest support for a new enlargement of the EU is reported by the citizens of Spain (71%), Lithuania (66%), Poland (66%), Romania (65%) and Hungary (62%) and among countries outside the EU - Albania (83%) and Macedonia (77%). On the other hand, Finland (64%), France (62%), Germany (61%), Austria (58%) and the Netherlands (56%) are the biggest opponents of EU enlargement.

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