Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Despite the growing energy crisis, a large majority of Europeans “remain firmly on Ukraine’s side,” according to a new survey.
It states that a large majority is in favor of arms deliveries and that there is still a high level of willingness to include Ukraine in the EU.
There is also strong support for the need for the EU to become more independent in terms of energy supply – even if this means staff cuts.
Nevertheless, the authors of the report warn: “These attitudes are not to be taken for granted, because there are early signs that approval is crumbling.”
This is one of the results of the new eupinions survey, the European opinion research instrument of the Bertelsmann Foundation, for which around 12,000 citizens across the EU are surveyed every three months.
The data come from seven selected Member States and were published in collaboration with the Belgian King Baudouin Foundation.
The results come as the EU announced another series of sanctions, the eighth, against Russia. Also on Thursday, MPs called for a “massive” increase in military support to Ukraine.
According to the survey, around 72 percent of Europeans support independence for the EU from energy supplies from Russia, even if this means increasing costs.
Agreement is highest in Poland (80 percent) and Italy (76 percent). At 69 percent, it is lowest in Germany, which is particularly dependent on Russian gas.
However, comparative data from March 2022 shows that support for energy independence tends to diminish as the scale of the cuts becomes clearer. For the EU, the number of those who want to become independent of Russian energy imports has only fallen by two percent.
Isabell Hoffmann, project manager and Europe expert at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, commented: “The rising cost of living crisis is already affecting 44 percent of Europeans. And they will feel the effects of the war even more in their daily lives during the winter season.
“This will be a stress test for the strong support that the EU’s Ukraine policy has enjoyed since the beginning of the war.”
A clear majority of 60 percent supports continued EU arms deliveries to Ukraine. Support is particularly strong in Poland, where 84 percent of respondents are in favour. In Belgium it is 62 percent, in Germany 61 percent. Only Italy cannot demonstrate a majority for arms deliveries. 58 percent of Italians are against it.
Hoffmann said: “In March everyone was shocked and the will to support Ukraine was very strong. Three months later the shock is over, but the will to support remains high, even if the negative consequences are felt much more clearly in everyday life. This staying power is political capital and should be nurtured.”
According to the survey, Europeans are now in favor of Ukraine’s admission to the EU (EU-wide 66 percent).
However, a look at the various countries shows clear differences: in Poland, 84 percent are in favour. In Germany and France it is just 60 percent. The majorities are stable, but slightly declining everywhere.
There is broad agreement on the question of what role Europe should play in the world. A clear majority of 71 percent say Europe already plays an important role in international affairs, while an even larger majority say Europe should play an even more important role in the future.
77 percent of Europeans now want the US to be a strong ally at their side.
Hoffmann: “Since the Russian attack on Ukraine, the EU and its member states have shown unity and the ability to act, and they continue to do so. Over time, it becomes more and more important to engage the public in arguments and communication.
“Our figures show that Europeans continue to support decisive action in support of Ukraine. However, the pressure is growing and with it the personal worries. There is a risk that the desire to help and the private burdens will conflict and that potential for political conflict will arise.”