While 59% of EU citizens would fight for their country on its own soil, just over a quarter (27%) would take up arms outside its borders. In fact, when it comes to the involvement of EU soldiers in Ukraine, there is overwhelming rejection (69%) according to the latest results of Századvég’s Project Europe research.


The European political elite is in a war fever

In the European political arena, the rhetoric of war has increased considerably in recent months. The statements of many leading politicians of the European Union and Western Europe, instead of promoting peace negotiations, have been aimed at creating a war machine, at visualising the involvement of European countries in war, suggesting that military support for Ukraine is essential for the defence of EU Member States. Among others, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, calls for a shift to war management, while Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said that “a full-scale European war is no longer a fantasy”. In addition, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius is considering the reintroduction of conscription, while Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party, has also called for compulsory military service.

European citizens reject military intervention

The public opinion survey shows that public attitudes differ radically in Europe in terms of willingness to fight, as regards potential armed combat inside and outside national borders. The survey shows that 59% of EU respondents would fight for their country on its own soil, but 27% would not be willing to do so. This compares with just over a quarter (27%) of EU citizens who would only take up arms outside their country’s borders, while 54% would refuse to do so. In other words

less than half as many Europeans would fight beyond their own country’s borders as on its own soil.

Broken down by country, the proportion of those willing to defend their country with arms within their country’s borders exceeds the proportion of those who are not, in all EU Member States. High levels of public willingness to take up armed defence within national borders can be found in Lithuania (74%), Estonia and Hungary (70%-70%), among others.

The picture is radically different for warfare outside national borders.

The percentage of those in favour of armed combat outside their own country’s borders does not reach 50% in any EU country,

and only Lithuania (46%) exceeds the number of those opposed (28%). In Germany, where the possible reintroduction of conscription has become the focus of public debate in Europe, only 23% of Germans surveyed would take up arms across the border, while 6 out of 10 Germans (60%) would refrain from doing so. It is also important to underline that the Hungarians (75%) and the Austrians and Belgians (66-66%) are the most opposed to military service outside their own country.

The research also addressed the issue of the deployment of European military forces in Ukraine.

More than two-thirds (69%) of EU respondents oppose sending troops to Ukraine, while 25% would not object.

Moreover, the percentage of those in favour of intervention in any EU Member State does not exceed the percentage of those opposed.

The highest proportions of those who would not support Kyiv by sending troops are Hungarians (91%) and Bulgarians (86%).

• The Project Europe Research

In the first half of 2016, the Századvég Foundation conducted a public opinion survey covering the 28 Member States of the European Union to examine the views of European citizens on the issues that most affect the future of the Union. The Project28 public opinion survey was the most extensive ever, with a unique survey of 1,000 randomly selected adults per country, totalling 28,000. The main objectives of the survey were to gauge public sense of prosperity and to explore public attitudes towards the performance of the European Union, the migration crisis and rising terrorism. Following the surveys of 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Századvég Foundation, on behalf of the Hungarian government, continued the research since 2020 under the name Project Europe, which continued to reflect on the most dominant topics in European political and public discourse.

Once again, the 2024 survey aimed to explore public attitudes to the most important public issues affecting our continent. In addition to the public sense of prosperity, the performance of the European Union, the energy crisis and the migration crisis, and in line with the new challenges facing Europe, the main topics of this year’s public opinion poll are the rising geopolitical tensions, the perception of the media and child protection. The 2024 survey covered the European Union, the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland, and a total of 30,000 randomly selected adults were interviewed using CATI between 14 February and 15 April.