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De publieke opinie over internationale handel (en) - Hoofdinhoud
Who was surveyed and why
A public opinion survey was carried out by TNS Opinion & Social network between August and September 2010. The interviews were conducted among 26 635 EU citizens in the 27 Member States of the European Union. The methodology used is that of the Eurobarometer surveys1 and the technical details are set out in the annex to the report.
The European Commission decided to measure in order:
-To analyse the impact of international trade on the lives of EU citizens;
-To evaluate the perceived role of the EU in international trade; and
-To assess the future challenges of European Union trade policy.
The findings have fed into the preparation of the EU's renewed trade policy and will form the basis for further reflections.
What do Europeans say…
…about the benefits of trade?
Two-thirds of Europeans (65%) think that the EU has benefited a lot from international trade. As for their individual experience, more people think that they are personally benefiting from trade today than disagree.
The respondents who feel that trade benefits them personally the strongest are located in Cyprus, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Malta, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Greece, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Hungary and Germany.
Europeans think that the main benefits from international trade are that there is a wider choice for consumers and that products are cheaper.
Of those who did not currently feel they benefit from international trade, the reasons given were higher prices for certain goods, higher unemployment and a decrease in the quality of goods. 16% of this group were concerned that trade harms the environment because of the transport that trade requires.
… about the impact of trade in daily life?
Half of Europeans are aware of the origin of the products and services they purchase. This awareness is higher for some items (62% for food) than for others (44% for high-tech services such as a mobile phone provider).
The countries with the highest levels of origin awareness are Cyprus, Greece, Finland, Latvia, followed by Slovenia, Lithuania, Hungary and Estonia.
Origin influences the purchasing decisions of around one third of Europeans, depending on the product or service. A majority of Europeans (53%) would not be prepared to pay more for products or services from their own country, compared to 41% of Europeans who would.
Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, France, Luxembourg, UK, Latvia and Cyprus are the countries most prepared to pay more for products and services from the respondent's own country.
The countries least prepared to pay more include Malta, the Czech Republic, Romania, Spain and Portugal.
A relative majority of respondents would pay more for products from companies that respect the environment (47%). More than four in ten Europeans are willing to pay more for products from companies that apply high social standards or support developing countries.
Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Finland, France, the UK and Belgium have a higher proportion of respondents willing to pay more for products or services from companies that respect the environment.
… about the EU's role in trade and future challenges?
A relative majority of Europeans thought that the EU was the biggest world player in international trade. Nearly two thirds of respondents thought that European products and services can compete well with those from outside the EU.
Whereas in Finland, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia, 55% or more believe that the EU is the biggest player in the world, only around a third of respondents in the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden and Denmark agree.
The highest levels of opinion on the competitiveness of European goods and services are found in Slovakia, Cyprus, Austria, Bulgaria, Germany and Greece.
However, Europeans are less confident in their expectations of the future role of the EU in international trade. 45% of respondents expect the EU to become a secondary economic power in the future, but with a high level of don't know answers (24%), many Europeans remain undecided.
Seven out of ten Europeans think that international trade will benefit emerging economies more and more in the future.
The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium have the highest number of respondents who think that emerging economies will gain in importance. Romania, Malta, Latvia, Portugal and Poland have the fewest.
... about the future priorities for EU trade policy?
More than six in ten Europeans on average believe that the priority for future EU trade policy should be to create employment (61%).
The figure is higher in Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia and Portugal where more than seven out of ten identify job creation as the number one task for the future.
The second and third priorities for future EU trade policy were offering consumers the widest choice of products and services at the lowest price (39%) and ensuring that the same rules for trade are applied elsewhere in the world (38%).
In Cyprus, Bulgaria, Malta and Romania the preference is for choice at a low price while in the Netherlands equality of rules gathers largest support.
The other priorities identified by Europeans were supporting European companies and businesses (32%), ensuring environmental standards (30%) and helping developing countries around the world (28%).
… according to socio-demographics?
The awareness and sensitivities of European's attitudes to international trade vary with skill level and social class.
The younger and the more educated respondents are, the more likely they are to see benefits from international trade.
Respondents who are more aware of the origins of products and goods see more benefits from international trade. The majority of people who say they benefit from trade use the internet everyday.
Respondents who have difficulties paying their bills or position themselves further down the social scale are less likely to recognise the benefits of trade.
On the report and on the detailed findings per EU country: