Data Set Description for Chapter 4: The Eurobarometer
Data Exercise Contributor: Jens Wäckerle
The Eurobarometer survey was created in 1974 by the European Commission and provides a comprehensive understanding of public opinion in Europe. In total, there are 92 waves of suveys, with most waves containing more than one individual survey. In each survey, approximately 1,000 residents of each EU member state are interviewed. In newer waves, the dataset also includes prospective member and candidate states such as Montenegro and Albania. The Eurobarometer surveys provide a rare source of comparative data that allows for a detailed analysis of public opinion in all member states. It is important to note that the questionnaire design of the Eurobarometer is done by the European Commission, not by the scientific community. Thus, the Eurobarometer differs from other survey studies in that it is primarily a barometer of public opinion for European decision-makers.
Besides a host of constant (e.g. demographic) and recurring (e.g. support for EU integration) questions, each Eurobarometer also has a thematic focus. In 2019, waves focused on the European elections, the EU budget and articial intelligence. Additionally, there are “Special Eurobarometers” that focus on specific policy questions. The dataset can be accessed on the Gesis website. We will present the dataset below. While reading, please keep in mind the questions you see below and answer them once you have reached the end. At the end, we will provide a link to a platform with an interactive version of the dataset and additional tasks.
|What are the conceptual differences between the different measures of Euroscepticism?|
|The populations of which countries are the most critical of EU integration overall?|
|What kind of European Union do people in different parts of Europe want?|
Below, we will present results from Eurobarometer 91.5, which was conducted in June-July 2019. Its thematic focus were were the 2019 European elections, the future of Europe, European citizenship, development cooperation, the EU’s response to the financial and economic crisis and the Europe 2020 strategy. Table 2 shows a sample of ten respondents from the dataset and some of their demographic information. The age of respondents is given in years, while the education is asked as the age at which the respondent left the education system. Occupation is coded in 18 categories that also comprise unemployed, students and retired respondents. The left-right position of respondents is provided as a self-assessment with “1” representing the left and “10” the right end of the scale.
|58||Woman||18||Skilled manual worker||HR||3|
|25||Man||19||Skilled manual worker||LT||NA|
We can take a closer look at the distribution of the left-right self-assessment across countries. Figure 1 shows that respondents in Poland, Hungary and Latvia put themselves the furthest to the right of the scale, while respondents in Spain, Luxembourg and Germany see themselves the furthest to the left.
Measures of Support for EU integration
We will now present different measures for support for European integration and Euroscepticism. Eurobarometer 91.5 included a host of questions on this topic (normally, Eurobarometer surveys include only some of these). First, a simple way to ask respondents about EU integration is whether they think their country’s membership in the EU is a good, a bad or neither a good nor a bad thing. Figure 2 shows the share of respondents that think the EU is a good thing across all countries in Europe. In Luxembourg and Ireland, more than 80% of respondents think that the EU is a good thing, whereas less than 40% of respondents in Italy and the Czech Republic think so.
Additionally, the Eurobarometer asks about the perceived and desired speed of European integration. On a scale from 1 (“Standstill”) to 7 (“Runs as fast as possible”), the respondents are asked to indicate how fast Europe is currently built and how fast it should be built. Figure 3 shows the average of the desired speed of European integration. Higher values indicate that on average, citizens desire a faster speed of European integration. Contrary to the question on EU membership before, the countries that show the most pro-EU stance here are southern European countries such as Portugal, Greece, Malta and Spain. On the other hand, the public in Western and Northern Europe does not feel a similar need for faster European integration, with countries such as Austria, Luxembourg and Finland making up the lower end of the scale.
Figure 4 compares the average current and desired speeds of EU integration. The y-axis represents the same information as Figure 3. The x-axis, however, shows considerable variation in how fast integration is perceived by the public in these countries. Citizens of Hungary and Poland, while also supporting EU integration, feel that the EU is going forward at a great speed already. On the other hand Italians and Germans feel that the EU is progressing much slower. Overall, the average desired speed of integration in all countries is greater than the average perceived speed, indicating considerable demand for increased integration throughout Europe.