Századvég has been conducting international public opinion surveys since 2016 to examine the views of European citizens on the issues that most affect the future of the EU. The aim of the 2024 survey of the unique Project Europe survey series was to map public attitudes on the most important public issues affecting our continent. The main topics of research are issues related to the Russia-Ukraine war and the armed conflict between Israel and Hamas. Topics will also include, among others, the sense of prosperity in society, perceptions of the European Union’s activities, energy price developments and energy policy, media, religious affiliation and attitudes to migration. The results of the survey were presented on 7 May 2024 at the Europe in the Shadow of War conference, held in the Várkert Bazár with the participation of several renowned professionals and public figures.


Áron Hidvégi, Vice Chairman of Századvég, gave a welcome speech at the conference, saying that the conference was titled “Europe in the Shadow of War” because the Russia-Ukraine war broke out more than two years ago, and we all feel its effects in our everyday lives. Yet European leaders prefer to help escalate the war with their communications, despite the fact that Századvég’s survey clearly shows that the European people want peace, whatever form the question is asked in. The Vice Chairman added that the European elections in June are of particular importance, as the choice will be whether the pro-peace or pro-war position will be strengthened in the EU.

After that, Tamás Deutsch MEP gave the opening speech. In his speech, he stressed that our national and constitutional sovereignty is under constant attack and we must defend our families, our religious communities, our homeland and our national freedom. Tamás Deutsch stressed that Hungary will not give up its pro-peace position, “no matter how much pressure Brussels puts on it”. He added that for two years European leaders had been “reasoning” about strategy and sanctions, while day by day they are drifting from peace to war. The MEP also pointed out that the Hungarian left took a violent and pro-war stance, and as he said, “they voted enthusiastically for even the most extreme European proposal”. According to Tamás Deutsch, it is necessary for sovereignist forces to win the upcoming EP elections in all Member States. He stressed that the European sovereignist turnaround starts with the victory of Fidesz and KDNP candidates on 9 June.

The MEP was followed by Áron Hidvégi, Vice Chairman of Századvég, with his presentation entitled “Landscape before battle”. In his speech, he spoke about the Project Europe survey. He said that the results show that Europeans want peace and are against moves that would draw Europe deeper into war, putting Europe’s peace and security at risk. This is also reflected in the figures: 59% of people surveyed would defend their own country on its territory, while only 27% would fight for their own country outside its borders. 69% of EU citizens oppose the entering of EU countries’ troops into Ukraine. This opposition is illustrated by the fact that there is no EU Member State where this is not the majority and dominant view. The Vice Chairman also explained that the majority of Europeans did not support illegal immigration and a significant majority of Europeans were against it. 60% of Europeans are against the migration pact and 74% think it is important to protect borders.

The conference continued with a roundtable discussion with the participation of Dr. Bence Tuzson, Minister of Justice, Áron Hidvégi, Vice Chairman of Századvég and Dr. Olivér Hortay, Head of Energy and Climate Policy at Századvég Konjunktúrakutató, on the topic “Europe facing a sovereigntist turn?”.

During the discussion, the minister stressed that the most serious issue at stake in the European Parliament elections in June is that of war. He said that it was unprecedented to have to decide on such a crucial issue that affects our lives across such a broad spectrum, even in concrete terms. He added that it is not a question of whether right-wing or left-wing parties win the elections in the Member States, but whether they are pro-peace. Bence Tuzson also said that as long as the current government was in power in Hungary, our country would not back down on this issue and would not send troops or arms to a war in a neighbouring country. The Minister also said that Europe should be built on strong nations. “I am convinced that there will be a sovereigntist turn in Europe”, said Bence Tuzson, adding that “in corridor discussions it is very clear that most European government members feel the same, even if they often do not say so because of the official position.”

After the roundtable discussion, Dr. János Bóka, Minister for European Union Affairs and Kinga Kenyeres, CEO of Századvég Konjunktúrakutató discussed the Hungarian Presidency on behalf of the European people.

During the discussion, Kinga Kenyeres said that the 9 June elections were extremely important in the lives of European citizens, and at the same time Hungary would hold the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of the year, which was an extraordinary opportunity, as the Hungarian presidency would be able to represent the European people in a meaningful way, which is why it was an important question whether this sovereigntist turn would be achieved. On the competitiveness of the EU, the CEO pointed out that when asked what they expect from the EU, Europeans have a very low opinion of the EU. In the last five years, the EU’s competitiveness had not been addressed, but rather migration and green policy, said János Bóka. According to János Bóka, this was a problem, and the EU had also raised the need to work on new competitiveness targets, and the next EU presidencies had been asked to do so. According to Bóka, this is a difficult task because there is no good solution, but it is a complex project with many pillars.  He thinks that the EU can only be competitive if it allows its Member States to be competitive.

The debate also focused on the migration pact, which the survey shows European citizens clearly say no to. In this context, Kinga Kenyeres pointed out that Europeans thought that the values of immigrant communities were clearly different from those of European societies.

After the discussion, Dr. Olivér Hortay, Head of the Energy and Climate Policy at Századvég Konjunktúrakutató, gave a presentation on Geopolitics and the Energy Crisis. On energy poverty, he said that across the EU, 23% of those surveyed said they could not heat their homes adequately, with those who could not pay their bills ranging between 23% and 25%. According to Oliver Hortay, this shows that the energy crisis is not over and that EU leaders should address it. He pointed out that high energy prices are a major concern throughout Europe and that everything possible should be done to keep prices down. Oliver Hortay pointed out that the survey showed that respondents believed that Brussels was responsible (64%), and 40% of them attributed a major role to German energy policy. The expert said that the EU had systematically dismantled in recent years the capabilities that could have helped to reduce the scale of the challenges posed by war.

This was followed by a moderated discussion titled “Can the war be avoided?”, featuring Áron Máthé, historian and Vice Chairman of the National Remembrance Committee, and Zoltán Kiszelly, Director of Political Analysis at Századvég Foundation.

The panelists looked at the dangers of war in historical terms, and how the shadow of war is cast on Europe and our country. Zoltán Kiszelly asked Áron Máthé, among other things, how Europe and wars are interconnected, what characterises the history of Europe in the shadow of wars, and what recurrences can be found in this context. So, Áron Máthé spoke about occupations and war events in Hungary’s past, and related them to the events of the present. In previous wars, the Hungarian population had been sure to the end that the threat would not reach the country, as we could see today, the historian said. The discussion covered topics such as shifts in the balance of power that are not visible to the public, the “rolling dollars” of the twentieth century and their influence, and the role of social platforms in the coverage of war news.

This was followed by another round table discussion on “How negative adhesion trends affect the future of the EU?”. The participants of the discussion were Ádám Kavecsánszki, President of the Foundation for Civic Hungary, Dr. Miklós Szánthó, lawyer, Director General of the Centre for Fundamental Rights, and Dr. Zoltán Lomnici Jr., Scientific Director of Századvég Foundation.

Miklós Szánthó said that, in the Project Europe survey, 52% of respondents said that their interests are not taken into account by the EU elite. He said that the figures showed that the vast majority of outgoing MEPs had identified right-wing populism as a challenge, which is why this proves that “the European swamp needs to be drained”, because reality and what they see do not coincide. The Director-General pointed out that there is a credibility crisis in the EU, and one of the components of this is that Europe has been re-colonised and the European decision-makers have been brainwashed. Brussels is dominated on ideology-driven grounds, and this has spilled over into the field of war issues.

According to Ádám Kavecsánszki, the classic saying was that hard times call for strong people, and along these lines it was difficult to include the Brussels elite. He believes that the current weak leaders of the EU have distanced themselves from Europeans and that European cooperation, which was about prosperity, security and peace, is not working. The President of the Foundation for Civic Hungary stressed that in the West, Christian conservative and nationalist forces are banned, whereas in Hungary, speech is free, even if there is disagreement. The big question was whether the future was a Europe of nations or a federal Europe, said the President.

During the discussion, Zoltán Lomnici Jr. said that the Europe Project survey had shown that Lithuania has a separate policy, while almost all EU countries support the power of nation states against Brussels.

The closing speech of the conference was delivered by Dr Balázs Orbán, Political Director of the Prime Minister. In his presentation he said that, thanks to Századvég, everyone was now familiar with political think tanks, as they were now an integral part of public life. In this context, Balázs Orbán said that people had preconceived ideas about the world, and it is therefore important that the designers of the survey have compiled the questions with sufficient knowledge. So, in the political director’s view, it makes a difference who composes the questions and how they approach a problem or a topic. Balázs Orbán stressed that the Project Europe survey is unique in that it presents the real opinions of the people. In his presentation, the political director also spoke about how people today felt that things were not happening for them. The people of Europe want more power for their nation, so that their will can get realised. “Brussels wants to lead Europe like a flock of sheep, but the people do not want this”, Balázs Orbán stressed at the conference.


Source: MTI,