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European trust in EU hits highest levels in more than a decade, survey finds

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A pro-EU demonstrator holds an EU flag prior to the arrival of Jean-Claude Juncker and Boris Johnson in Luxembourg on Monday, 16 September, 2019.
A pro-EU demonstrator holds an EU flag prior to the arrival of Jean-Claude Juncker and Boris Johnson in Luxembourg on Monday, 16 September, 2019.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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European trust in the EU has reached its highest levels in more than a decade, despite concerns over the bloc's response to the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey has found.

According to the Eurobarometer poll, which was conducted on behalf of the European Commission and other EU bodies earlier this year, nearly half (49%) of Europeans trust in the EU.

The data, which was gathered between January and February, represents a steep 6-point increase since a similar survey was carried out in the summer of 2020.

It also marks the highest level of trust to be registered by the Eurobarometer since spring 2008.

A majority of residents in 20 EU-member states said they trusted the EU, which is up from 15 member states in the summer.

The highest levels of trust were found in Portugal (78%), Ireland (74%) and Lithuania (70%).

Meanwhile, more than six in ten participants in Malta and Estonia (both 64%) said they also trusted in the EU, followed by Denmark (62`%), the Netherlands (61%) and Latvia (61%).

In Hungary, 59% said they tended to trust the EU, along with 58% in Romania and Sweden, 56% in Belgium, 55% in Luxembourg and Slovenia, 53% in Bulgaria, 52% in Spain 51% in Croatia and 50% in Poland and Slovakia.

In Germany, a relative majority said they tended to trust the EU at 48% compared to 44%, who said they "tend not to trust" the bloc. Meanwhile, in Finland, public opinion was evenly divided 50-50.

On the other hand, distrust appeared to be the majority view in Greece (63%), Austria (53%), Czech and Cyprus (both 52%), France (49%) and Italy (46%).

Trust in the EU appears to have increased at the national level in 23 EU member states since the summer.

Researchers found levels of trust to have surged "most spectacularly" in Portugal, where trust rose by 22 percentage points to 78%.

Malta also saw a major surge in trust, with a rise of 19 percentage points to 64%, along with Italy at 44%, representing a rise of 16 percentage points and Belgium and the Czech Republic, which both saw a rise of 13 percentage points leading to 56% and 48% respectively.

The overall trend towards greater trust unfolded even as nearly half of Europeans said they were unsatisfied with the EU's measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Eurobarometer study found that 49% were unhappy with the bloc's coronavirus response, compared with 43% who were satisfied and 8% who were undecided.

The highest proportion of dissatisfaction was notably found in Greece, the country with the highest levels of distrust in the EU.

The Eurobarometer study was conducted between 12 February and 11 March across the 27 EU countries and 12 other countries outside the EU.