Presenting the Spring Package of the European Semester, Brussels Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said that the EU economy was performing better than expected and that Member States should end their energy subsidy schemes by the end of 2023. However, Századvég’s research reveals that claiming better-than-expected performance is an overstatement, and that implementing the call for discontinuing energy subsidy schemes would have serious social consequences.
One in five Europeans is energy poor
Despite a partial correction in market energy prices, high residential rates continue to cause existential hardship for the masses in many Member States. With 22% of EU citizens unable to heat their homes sufficiently, active economic policy intervention is still needed after 2023. The proportion reaches 20% in two-thirds of Member States, and is lower than 10% in Hungary alone, which has officially fixed prices. Greeks are the most vulnerable, with more than half of respondents reporting difficulties with heating.
The figures paint a similarly worrying picture for overdue utility bills, with 15% of EU citizens having missed the deadline for paying their bills one time and 8% more times in the past year.
The overall proportion of people affected is lowest in Hungary and Germany (17% in both countries), after the Czech Republic (15%) and Slovakia (16%). Greeks are in the worst position in this category as well, with 23% of their population having paid their bills late on one occasion and 25% on several occasions for financial reasons.
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 public sense of prosperity, the performance of the European Union, climate change and the migration crisis, this year’s polls focus on the Russia-Ukraine war, the energy crisis, energy supply and family policy, in line with the new challenges facing Europe. 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.