Majority of Europeans favour tying EU funds to rule of law
Four out of five Europeans approve making EU funds to member states dependent on upholding democratic standards and the rule of law, according to the results of a survey released on Friday by the European Parliament, amid ongoing rows between the bloc and countries such as Poland and Hungary.
Just over 26,000 people participated in the survey, which was conducted across all 27 EU countries in August. 81% of respondents said they agreed that the EU should only provide funds to countries "conditional upon their government’s implementation of the rule of law and of democratic principles".
Earlier this week the European Commission said it had asked the European Court of Justice to impose a fine on Poland for failing to rein in controversial judicial reforms and ignoring an ECJ ruling on the matter in July.
In Luxembourg, 83% of respondents said they want to see democratic standards upheld as a condition for EU funds.
72% of participants in Poland - the lowest number in any member state - agreed with the notion of matching aid with compliance with EU rules, rising to 77% in Hungary, which has also clashed with the bloc in recent months over press freedoms and LGBTQ rights.
Respondents were more divided on the question of whether the EU's €800 billion pandemic recovery fund will "overcome the economic and social damage" caused by the Covid-19 crisis. 60% of those interviewed across the bloc agree that the financial package will turn the tide, dropping to 57% in Luxembourg and 49% in Sweden.
In the Grand Duchy - which hosts several EU institutions - just 48% have a positive view of the union, below the EU average of 53%, with 22% neutral and 28% negative, according to the latest survey.
Public opinion in Luxembourg towards the EU remarkably soured last year, the survey found, as 51% of respondents have a worse image of the bloc than they did a year ago - the steepest fall in any member state.
The survey did not say what reasons people cited for the decline, although more than half of people in Luxembourg, 56%, said in response to a separate question that they were not satisfied with how the EU had handled the vaccination strategy. By contrast, four-fifths expressed approval of the Luxembourg government's vaccine response.
Climate change is the issue most EU citizens want the parliament to prioritise, ranking as the top concern in 15 of the 27 member states, including Luxembourg.