In her September Annual Review speech, Ursula von der Leyen announced that a subsidy investigation would be launched against electric vehicles from China. Since her meeting with US President Joe Biden in March, the President of the European Commission has been calling for a turnaround in the EU’s policy towards China, which she justified in the past by sanctions evasion, then by the separation of economies, and now by “de-risking”. Moreover, international press reports suggest that Brussels, in cooperation with the US administration, would restrict economic cooperation between the EU and China in other sectors as well.
In 2022, China was the EU’s largest source of imports and its third largest export market (20.8% and 9% respectively). A growing trade conflict could therefore have serious consequences for the European Union’s economy as a whole, and therefore for the livelihoods of its citizens. Given the significance of the decision, Századvég has investigated whether European citizens support the measures Brussels is taking against China.
Europeans are for peaceful economic cooperation
In the whole of Europe, the clearly dominant view (48% overall, with a majority in more than two-thirds of countries) is that the EU should not take a tougher stance against China, but should instead seek peaceful economic cooperation.
The share of those calling for a tougher policy towards China was 39%, and only in a third of Member States (Poland and the Nordic and Baltic countries) was it higher than the share of those against sanctions. However, the issue is divisive in these countries as well, with 55% of the population in Lithuania, which is most in favour of tougher action, supporting it and 34% against.
More than half of EU Member States have an absolute majority in favour of maintaining peaceful cooperation. The Member State least in favour of sanctions is Hungary, where almost four-fifths of the population (79%) reject restrictions on trade, while support for tougher action is only 14%.
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 2023 survey aimed to explore public attitudes to the most important public issues affecting our continent. In addition to the social perception of the economic situation, the performance of the European Union, climate change and the migration crisis, and in line with the new challenges facing Europe, the main topics of this year’s public opinion survey are the Russia-Ukraine war, the energy crisis, energy supply and family policy. The 2023 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 26 April and 22 June.