Brexit effect: a majority of Maltese people would vote to stay in the EU
The latest Eurobarometer survey, measuring public attitudes to the EU across the bloc, highlights that more people than ever consider their country’s membership of the European Union to be a good thing (62%). This is the highest figure recorded in the last 25 years. Maltese people are 69% positive.
68% are also of the view that their country has benefitted from EU membership – the highest figure since 1983. Malta is second only to Ireland with 91% believing the country has benefitted.
Nearly all results measuring support for the EU showed a significant upturn following the UK referendum in 2016 suggesting growing concern across the continent at the impact that Brexit will have and a growing awareness, due to the difficult negotiations, of the benefits of being a Member of the EU.
66% of European respondents would vote for their country to remain a member of the EU (a majority in all member states) and only 17% would contemplate leaving, with 17% undecided. 65 % of Maltese people would vote to stay in the EU.
The latest Eurobarometer figures also show a growing sense of satisfaction amongst Europeans in the democratic functioning of the EU (49%), representing a three point increase since the previous survey in April whilst 48% feel that their voice counts in the EU, though this latter sentiment appears to be on the decline in a number of countries. On the contrary, the majority of Maltese, 51%, feel that their voice counts in the EU, up two points since April.
The Parlemeter 2018 survey though is not all good news. Despite significant and growing support for the EU in general, half of respondents are not happy with the direction the EU is heading in, with a similar result regarding their own country. A majority of Maltese people is still satisfied with the way democracy works in the EU, but this percentage is down 8 points.
Public opinion also seems quite stable in terms of expectations about the role of the EU in the future with 48% wanting the EU to play a more important role as opposed to 27% preferring less.
As regards the image of Parliament across the EU, one third (32%) hold a positive view, one fifth (21%) a negative view and a relative majority (43%) remain neutral. 40% of Maltese have a positive image of the EP.
There is growing awareness of next year’s European elections, with 41% correctly identifying the date in May 2019 – a nine point increase over a similar survey six months ago and seven points more than in June 2013. However 44% still could not say today when the elections will be taking place compared to 46% in June 2013. Maltese people show a higher than average awareness with 58% already knowing when the next elections will be held.
With 51% of citizens declaring to be interested in the elections, citizens’ campaign priorities have evolved over the past six-month period. Immigration now tops the agenda (50%) followed by economy (47%) and youth unemployment (47%), whilst combatting terrorism moves down to fourth place with 44%. The top priority for Maltese people for the next European elections remains immigration. 76% have said this is their main concern, up 11 points from April.