According to a Eurobarometer survey held in June 2012 and published on Thursday, two out of three Maltese citizens see themselves as Maltese and European at the same time. This is in contrast to the trend in Europe where only an average of 43% cherish the European identity.
Research carried out two years ahead of the 2014 European elections reveals an inversion of trends over six months with citizens from 20 EU member states increasingly seeing themselves only in terms of their national identity, rather than identifying themselves as being at once citizens of their country and Europeans.
That trend is not followed in Malta, however, where two out of every three Maltese citizens still see themselves as at once Maltese and European, even if 37 per cent of the population still sees itself as “only Maltese”.
The European Parliament Eurobarometer also seeks to gauge Europeans’ perceptions of the European Union, their knowledge of the institutions and their expectations in this time of crisis.
It finds that in the eyes of many Europeans, the values of freedom and democracy are the main elements that make up European identity, followed by the Euro as well as European “culture” and history.
According to respondents, it was the more practical aspects of life that strengthened their sense of European citizenship, including the harmonisation of the European social welfare system, the option of taking up residence and receiving one’s pension in any Member State, general recognition of qualifications, European task forces to intervene in the event of natural disasters, a European identity card and the right to vote in another EU Member State.
Generally speaking, the Eurobarometer identifies an increasing percentage of Europeans think that EU Membership is a good thing.
Quizzed about the European Union institutions, respondents mentioned the European Parliament as the institution which best represented the EU, ahead of the European Commission and the Council of the EU.
With regard to citizen participation, 57% of Europeans believe that ‘voting in European elections’ is the best way of ensuring that their voice is heard by EU decision-makers. Other tools, such as the citizens’ initiative and writing directly to European institutions are less favoured.
According to respondents the role of the European Parliament at a time of crisis should be creating jobs and combating unemployment (EU 72%, Malta 56%), reducing Member States’ public debt (EU 37%, Malta 50%) and increasing purchasing power and combating inflation (EU 35%, Malta 42%).
The survey is based on face-to-face interviews carried out in the first half of June 2012.
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