With just five months to go before the single European currency becomes Malta’s currency, 64 per cent of a representative sample of Maltese said they supported the euro, but the issues of rising prices and inflation have again taken over as the top priority concerns.
The head of the European Commission Representation in Malta, Joanna Drake, said she believed this concern may be partly related to the euro changeover, although a number of other factors certainly had a say in taking the issue to the top rank of priority concerns.
Dr Drake was giving a presentation of the results of the national report regarding the latest Standard Eurobaro-
meter survey, which was carried out between April and May this year and involved face-to-face interviews with 500 Maltese respondents.
Results regarding support for the euro among Maltese respondents increased by 10 per cent over the same results recorded during the previous Standard Eurobarometer survey in autumn.
However, there was a relatively high increase in the number of respondents who said they expected their financial situation to become worse over the next 12 months.
When compared to six months ago, the percentage of respondents saying they expected their financial situation to improve increased from 14 to 18 per cent, but there was an increase from nine to 17 per cent in the number of respondents who said they expected it to worsen.
When asked about the country’s economic situation, 61 per cent said they believed the situation in Malta was worse than that in the rest of EU member states. Only 18 per cent said Malta’s situation was better, while eight per cent said it was identical.
When compared to the previous results, the most recent ones showed a more optimistic attitude (by about 10 per cent) among the Maltese.
Commenting on policy areas which the Maltese believe should have decisions made at national government level, or jointly with the EU, Dr Drake said it was clear that the level of Maltese integration had increased at a steady rate since the country joined the EU.
In policy domains like migration, competition, energy, support for regions facing economic difficulties, scientific and technological research, consumer protection, agriculture and fisheries, protecting the environment, defence and foreign affairs, fighting terrorism and fighting crime, the majority of Maltese respondents were in favour of joint decision-making at EU level.
On the other hand, in policy domains like health and social welfare, pensions, the educational system, fighting unemployment and taxation, the majority of Maltese respondents were against joint decision making at EU level.
Rather unsurprisingly, public transport and the environment are two areas that Maltese respondents believe to be inferior in comparison to other EU countries.
On the other hand, Maltese respondents gave better ratings to the Maltese educational system and quality of life in Malta.
Interestingly, only 48 per cent of Maltese respondents said they tended to trust the Maltese parliament, but this percentage increased by five per cent over the previous survey. A total of 37 per cent tend not to trust the Maltese parliament, while 15 per cent replied that they “do not know”.
As for the single European currency, the rate of Maltese, 64 per cent, supporting the euro increased by 10 per cent over the previous Standard Eurobarometer. Support for the currency in the EU-27 stands at 63 per cent.
With regard to migration, a strong 73 per cent of respondents said they tended to agree with a European common policy on migration. This meant an increase of 12 percentage points over the previous six months. As for the idea of the rest of the Europeans that participated in the Standard Eurobarometer survey, 75 per cent said they agreed with the common policy.
Dr Drake commented by saying that this showed the increased awareness throughout Europe with regard to migration and the fact that people were sensing the strong need for more integrated action.