Since the onset of the European energy crisis, there has been increasing criticism of Germany’s energy policy efforts. The closure of operational German nuclear power plants has exacerbated the lack of capacity in the European Union’s electricity market. The obstruction of the authorisation of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline caused a trade conflict between the European Union and Russia, due to which the Russian side reduced the amount of natural gas delivered to the EU before the war. And after the outbreak of the war, Russia began to restrict its deliveries on the Nord Stream-1 pipeline after Germany had nationalised the gas storage facilities owned by Russian Gazprom and announced that it would completely cut off gas trade with Russia within two years.
In the framework of the Project Europe Research conducted by Századvég, European citizens were asked whether they agreed with the criticisms levelled at Germany, i.e., whether they considered German energy policy to be responsible for the energy crisis.
Nine out of ten German citizens hold their country’s energy policy responsible for the crisis
An overwhelming majority of European citizens (89 percent) believe that the failed German energy policy is responsible for the development of the European energy crisis, and almost half of them (48 percent) attribute a major role to Germany. It is surprising that, after the most critical Finland, Czechia, and Slovenia, Germany has the highest proportion of those who believe that German efforts played a key role in the crisis. The high proportion of critics can be explained by the fact that there is an overwhelming support for nuclear energy among Finnish, Czech and Slovenian citizens in EU comparison, and in the latter two, a large proportion of citizens take a sanction-critical stance. In Germany, the drastic increase in overhead costs is believed to have increased the general dissatisfaction of the population with the government’s measures. Due to differences of opinion on the cornerstones of energy policies, Hungarian respondents are also critical of German efforts: 52 percent attribute a significant role to Germany in the development of the energy crisis.
The highest proportion of those who do not consider German energy policy to be responsible for the situation is in Luxembourg (20 percent), Bulgaria (18 percent) and the Netherlands (17 percent). In the case of Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the results may be explained by the fact that both countries import huge quantities of energy from Germany. The Bulgarian results are surprising because Bulgaria does not have close trade relations with Germany in energy supplies, and the country has a high proportion of both sanctions critics and nuclear supporters.
In the first half of 2016, the Századvég Foundation conducted a public opinion poll survey covering all 28 European Union Member States, with the aim to analyse the opinions of EU citizens regarding the issues that most affect the future of the EU. In a unique way, Project 28 conducted the widest possible survey of 1,000, that is a total of 28,000 randomly selected adults in each country. Gaining an understanding of society’s sense of prosperity and mapping the population’s attitudes towards the performance of the European Union, the migration crisis and the increasing terrorism were among the most important goals of the analysis. Following the surveys in 2017, 2018 and 2019, on behalf of the government, the Századvég Foundation has been conducting the research under the name of Project Europe since 2020, which continued to reflect on the topics that most dominated the European political and social discourse.
In 2022, the aim of the survey is again to map the population’s attitude towards the most important public issues affecting our continent. In addition to society’s sense of prosperity, the performance of the European Union, the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and the perception of the migration crisis, in line with the latest challenges affecting Europe, the dominant theme of this year’s poll has been the Russian-Ukrainian war, the energy crisis, energy supply, and family policy. In addition to the European Union Member States, the 2022 research covered the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, Moldova, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and surveyed a total of 38,000 randomly selected adults using the CATI method between 13 October and 7 December.