Handling of pandemic has changed how Czechs feel about the EU

An October survey asked questions ranging from EU policy, to the protection of the environment – and reveled some interesting facts.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 01.12.2020 13:44 (updated on 01.12.2020)

According to a survey of roughly 1,000 people conducted by the STEM institute and the EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy in October, 56 percent of Czechs would vote for joining the EU if there was a referendum held at the time the poll was given.

Among Czechs, the popularity of the union is on the rise in reaction to the EU's response to the coronavirus pandemic and its active engagement in negotiations concerning the COVID-19 vaccine and import of medicine, researcher Vit Havelka from EUROPEUM said.

The results show that 21 percent of those polled see the EU as very positive. Nearly 30 percent of Czechs pursue a half-hearted approach. In other words, they do not care much for the EU, however, they do not want to leave it either. By contrast, 23 percent of respondents do not like the EU, nor know much about it, while only 2 percent are active anti-EU protesters.

One in ten people are critical of the EU, while some 16 percent are suspicious of it.

The survey discovered there is a difference between the feeling of European identity and satisfaction with EU membership. While 78 percent of those interviewed agreed with identifying as a European, only 52 percent said they were satisfied with EU membership in October.

Public support for the Euro has been hovering at about 20 percent since 2011. If support for something drops under 30-25 percent, the issue becomes a consensus and it is more difficult to find strong support for it, Havelka said.

Over two-thirds of those polled do not question the economic benefit of EU membership however, the same share of people think that money from EU funds are at a higher risk of corruption than other public sources. Some 73 percent of people deem the EU money allocation system unfair.

More than a half of those interviewed believed money allocated to EU projects are not primarily in the Czech Republic. Among priorities, people mentioned investments in unemployment and economic revival, adding also transport, the environment, agriculture and social services.

What came as a surprise to pollsters was the fact that the people with a very positive attitude towards the EU often underestimate the importance of social services, not considering them priority as those who are less supportive of the EU.

For those critical of the EU, they do not see the environment as important, pollsters said. More than half of Czechs want to address climate change, immediately, if possible, while 45 percent want to tackle it at least sometime in the future, while a mere fraction of those asked said never.

However, not all the people are familiar with the EU Green Deal goals. The deal and a coordinated anti-climate change strategy was backed by 28 percent of those polled, while about one-third support the deal, but adds that the Czech Republic should follow its own path.

Roughly one in seven Czechs currently consider other priorities crucial and a similar number deem the deal useless. Some 10 percent of the interviewed do not care or do not have an opinion regarding the environment.