Eurobarometer: 96% of Bulgarians are Worried about the Rising Cost of Living

Society | January 13, 2023, Friday // 10:13
Bulgaria: Eurobarometer: 96% of Bulgarians are Worried about the Rising Cost of Living @economic.bg

The rising cost of living is the most pressing concern for 93% of Europeans, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey for the European Parliament, published yesterday. Support for the EU remains high, but citizens expect the Union to work on solutions to mitigate the effects of the crises.

In every EU Member State, more than seven in ten respondents are concerned about the rising cost of living, with the highest scores in Greece (100%), Cyprus (99%), Italy and Portugal (both 98%).

In Bulgaria, the share of people who are worried about the rising cost of living is approaching the highest levels at 96%. The increase in prices, including energy and food, is felt in all socio-demographic categories such as gender and age, as well as in all educational and socio-professional groups.

The second most frequently mentioned at the European level is the threat of poverty and social exclusion, with 82%, followed by climate change and the danger of the war in Ukraine spreading to other countries, which are in third place with 81%.

Bulgarians also indicate in second and third place the threat of poverty and social exclusion and the danger of the war in Ukraine spreading to other countries, with 86% and 85%, respectively, while the threat of climate change is further behind with 69%.

Citizens expect the EU to continue working on solutions to mitigate the compounding effects of the series of successive crises that have hit the continent. The high support for the EU builds on the experience of past years, when the Union has demonstrated a remarkable ability to come together and introduce effective measures. At the time of the survey, citizens are not satisfied with the actions taken either at the national or at the European level. Only a third of Europeans are satisfied with the measures taken by their national governments or the EU to tackle the rising cost of living.

Bulgarians express stronger dissatisfaction than the EU average regarding the measures taken by the national government (21%), and regarding the measures taken by the EU, the results are commensurate with the average for the Union - 32%.

Regarding the financial situation of citizens, the survey shows that the consequences of the polycrisis are felt more and more distinctly. Almost half of the EU population (46%) say that their living standards have already been lowered due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of Russia's aggressive war against Ukraine and the cost of living crisis. Another 39% have not yet experienced a decline in their living standards, but expect this to happen in the next year, presenting a bleak outlook for 2023.

The data for Bulgaria on these indicators show that, according to 53% of respondents, their standard of living has already been lowered, and another 28% expect this to happen in 2023. Another indicator of growing economic restrictions is the increase in the share of citizens experiencing difficulties when paying bills "most of the time" or "sometimes" - from the fall of 2021, the total increase in these two indicators is 9 percentage points - from 30% to 39%. In Bulgaria, these indicators are almost twice the average for Europe, with 64% of respondents having difficulties "most of the time" or "sometimes" when paying bills.

"People are understandably worried about the rising cost of living as more families struggle to get by on their meagre means. Now is the time to help by putting in place the right measures: to get bills under control, stave off inflation and get our economies are growing. We must protect the most vulnerable in our societies," said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.

The numerous geopolitical crises of recent years continue to present citizens and politicians with serious challenges. With inflation at its highest level in decades, citizens want the European Parliament to focus on fighting poverty and social exclusion (37%). Public health continues to be important to many citizens (34%), as is continued action on climate change (31%). Support for the economy and the creation of new jobs (31%) is also in a key place among citizens' expectations.

According to the Bulgarians who participated in the survey, the main priorities of the European Parliament should be the fight against poverty and social exclusion (44%), support for the economy and the creation of new jobs (43%), public health (34%), as well as the topic for democracy and the rule of law (27%), while action against climate change is recognized by only 10% of respondents, which is nearly 20 percentage points different from the average levels for Europe.

At the same time, the current crises, and especially Russia's war against Ukraine, are strengthening citizens' support for the European Union: 62% of respondents believe that EU membership is a "good thing", which represents one of the highest results since 2007.

The share for Bulgaria on this indicator is much lower - 49%, with which it falls among the member states with the lowest levels on this indicator (Italy and Romania with 46%, Slovakia - 44%, Greece - 43% and Austria - 42%). Two-thirds of European citizens (66%) think that their country's EU membership is important, and 72% think that their country has gained from its EU membership. The figures for Bulgaria show that 54% of respondents believe that their EU membership is important, while 60% of them indicate that Bulgaria has gained from its EU membership, placing it second to last among member states on both indicators - respectively before Slovakia (48%) and before Austria (55%).

In this context, the idea of "peace" returns to the minds of citizens as one of the key and fundamental reasons for the existence of the European Union: 36% of Europeans believe that its contribution to maintaining peace and strengthening security are the main advantages of membership in EU, which represents an increase of 6 percentage points from autumn 2021. Europeans also believe that the EU facilitates better cooperation between member states (35%) and contributes to economic growth (30%).

For 53% of Bulgarians, the biggest advantage of EU membership is that the Union provides us with new opportunities for work, which puts the country in the same group as Croatia (51%), Slovakia (43%), Hungary (40%), Romania (39%), the Czech Republic (38%) and Estonia (38%). The next most important benefits of EU membership for the Bulgarians who participated in the survey are better cooperation between Bulgaria and other member states (33%), as well as maintaining peace and strengthening security (29%).

The Eurobarometer survey was conducted in October 2022 in all 27 EU member states.

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