The Malta Independent 29 February 2024, Thursday
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85% of Maltese expect their standard of living to decrease – Eurobarometer

Semira Abbas Shalan Wednesday, 6 December 2023, 07:06 Last update: about 4 months ago

85% of Maltese people expect their standard of living to decrease, while 50% believe that at present, things are going in the wrong direction, a 2023 European Parliament’s Eurobarometer, (also referred to as a Parlemeter), revealed.

The statistics were published six months ahead of the European Parliament’s 2024 elections, that will be held between 6 and 9 June across member states.

The survey looked at life in the EU from the citizen’s perspective, their perceptions of the EU, the European Parliament, as well as EU membership. The survey also looked at citizen’s awareness of the elections, as well as their participation in it.

The Parlemeter covered 27 EU Member States and was conducted through face-to-face interviews, including computer-assisted video interviews in Malta, between 28 September and 15 October 2023. The total number of interviews completed in the EU were 26,523, and 510 in Malta.

The population of interviewees included persons aged as young as 15 who would likely be turning 16 in time for the elections, and data was weighted according to the size of the population in each country. The date of the elections in Malta will be on 8 June, 2024.

Respondents were asked about their personal standard of living, to which 73% of European citizens said that they expect their standard of living to decrease.

85% of Maltese think that their standard of living will decrease, while only 1% of Maltese say that their standard of living has in fact increased, a 2 percentage point drop from the figure recorded in the Eurobarometer held in March of this year.

The Parlemeter showed that 48% of EU member states believe that things are going in the wrong direction with regards to the European Union, and 33% believe that things are going in the right direction in general.

In Malta, 20% believe that things in the EU are going in the wrong direction, while 41% say that things are going in the right direction. In the Maltese context, 50% of Maltese believe that things are going in the wrong direction, while 28% said that things are going in the right direction in the country.

Respondents were asked if they believe that their living conditions will be better, worse, or the same in one year’s time. 46% of Maltese think that their conditions will be worse, and 42% believe they will stay the same. On a sociodemographic level, 50% of those who believe their conditions will be worse are aged 55 and over.

Respondents were asked about their perception of the national economy in one year’s time, to which 53% of Maltese believe that the situation will worsen, an increase of six percentage points compared to the study in March. 29% think that it will stay the same, while 11% believe it will be better, a drop of seven percentage points compared to March.

On a European level, 52% of EU respondents believe that their national economy will worsen, and 13% believe it will be better.

Respondents were asked about their optimism about the future of the EU, to which 65% of Maltese said that they were optimistic, which however experienced a 10 percentage point drop from the study in March. 27% of Maltese respondents said that they were pessimistic about the future of the EU.

70% of Maltese said that the actions of the EU somewhat impacts their daily life, up by 5 percentage points since March, while 19% said that it highly impacts them. As for the EU as a whole, 53% of Europeans said they are convinced that the EU has an impact on their daily life.

53% of Maltese have a positive image of the EU

53% of Maltese say that they have a ‘positive’ image of the EU, while 45% of Europeans believe so. On the other hand, 10% of Maltese have a negative view of the EU, up by 3 percentage points since March. 16% of Europeans have a negative view of the EU.

Respondents were asked about the importance that their country is a Member State of the EU, to which 71% of Maltese believe that EU membership is important. 20% of Maltese remained neutral, while 8% do not think it is important.

As for the EU as a whole, 67% of Europeans believe in the importance of EU membership.

Vast majority believe Malta benefitted from membership

The vast majority (92%) of Maltese believe that Malta has benefited from being a member of the European Union, and 4% believe it has not. 72% of Europeans believe this of their own country, while 22% of Europeans believe they have not benefited.

In this respect, 48% of Maltese said that the main reason why the country has benefited from being a member of the EU was because it contributed to economic growth in the country. 36% said that the EU gives Maltese people new work opportunities, and 25% said that it gives Maltese people a stronger say in the world.

Asked about the perceived disadvantages of EU membership, 40% of Maltese respondents said that EU membership undermines the control of the country’s external borders, and 33% said that the EU puts Maltese jobs in danger. 32% of Maltese said that membership puts the country more at risk in maintaining peace and security.

Meanwhile, 34% of Europeans cited the main reasons their country benefited was because the EU contributes to maintaining peace and strengthening security, and improves cooperation between their country and other EU countries. The study showed that 32% of Europeans believe that their country has very little influence on decisions at EU level, while 30% believe that important issues for their country’s people are best dealt at national level.

On views on the EU’s enlargement following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 53% of Europeans believe the EU should speed up its efforts in letting new countries join the EU, while 40% disagree.

48% of Maltese agree that the EU must speed up its efforts, a 16 percentage point drop from March. 12% said that they disagreed.

Respondents were asked about the visibility of the European Parliament in the media, to which 73% of Maltese said that they have recently read, seen or heard something about the European Parliament, an 11-percentage point increase since March 2023. 64% of Europeans have come across the European Parliament in the media, a two-percentage point increase.

52% of Maltese have a ‘positive’ image of the European Parliament, an increase of 4 percentage points since March. 38% remained neutral, and 8% had a ‘negative’ outlook. In this respect, 36% of Europeans have a positive view of the European Parliament, with 44% remaining neural, and 18% having a ‘negative’ image.

Asked if respondents would personally like to see the European Parliament play a more important role, 73% of Maltese said that they would like to see the EP play a more important role, while 10% believe it should play a less important role.

Respondents were asked if they believed their voices were heard at a national and EU level. 48% of Maltese and Europeans agree that their voice counts in the EU. 47% of both Europeans and Maltese say that their voice does not count in the EU.

44% of Maltese believe their voice counts in Malta, and 52% say that it does not. 61% of Europeans believe that their voice counts in their country, while 36% disagree.

On the other hand, both Europeans and Maltese (64%) agree that their country’s voice counts in the EU, while 32% and 34% disagree respectively.

Satisfaction with democracy in the country

The survey asked respondents about their satisfaction with democracy, to which 58% of Maltese said that they were not satisfied with the way democracy worked in Malta, up 9 percentage points from March. 40% of Maltese said that they were satisfied, down 9 percentage points from March.

45% of Europeans said that they were not satisfied with their country’s democracy, while 53% said that they were.

With regards to the way democracy works in the EU, 53% of Maltese said that they were satisfied, while 41% said they were not, with the same figures applying for all Europeans.

Rule of Law

The survey showed that 40% of Maltese believe that the European Parliament should prioritise rule of law as a matter of priority to defend, followed by democracy (38%) and the protection of human rights in the EU and worldwide (32%).

38% of Maltese believe that action against climate change should be addressed in top priority by the EP.

37% of Maltese believe the fight against poverty and social exclusion should be addressed in priority, while 31% believe it is the democracy and rule of law.

68% of Maltese are interested in the next European elections in June 2024. 32% were not interested.

At European level, 57% said that they were interested in the elections, and 53% said that they were not.

As compared to the study done in March, 40% of Maltese are aware of the next European elections, far higher than the recorded 27% in March.

70% of Maltese are likely to vote in the 2024 European elections, and 17% said that they were 'not likely' to vote. Of these, 82% have already voted in the last European Parliament elections, while 37% have yet to vote. 51% of persons likely to vote are aged 15 to 24, while 80% are aged 55 and over.

As for the EU as a whole, 68% said that they are likely to vote in the upcoming elections, with 16% responding that they were not likely to vote.

The main reasons to vote in the European elections for Maltese is that they want to support a political party with 61%, followed by 53% who said that they want to support a specific candidate. 35% of Maltese said that it is their duty as citizens to vote.

The survey asked respondents for the main reasons for which some people do not vote in the European elections. 47% of Maltese believe that their vote will not change anything, while 46% said that they are not interested in politics in general. The third reasons (at 36%), were that the Maltese distrust the political system in general, and that they are not convinced by any political party or candidate.

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