EU — The Single Market through the eyes of the people: a snapshot of citizens’ and businesses’ views and concerns
European citizens are, in general, satisfied with the possibilities that the Single Market offers in terms of a bigger choice of products (74%), more jobs (52%) and fair competition (47%). On the other hand, the Single Market is perceived as only benefiting big companies (62%), worsening working conditions (51%) and not benefiting poor and disadvantaged people (53%). 28% of those interviewed are considering working abroad in the future. These are some of the key results in the latest Eurobarometer survey on the Single Market. They also show that many Europeans are not aware of the Single Market and its benefits (35%).
The European Commission has also compiled the 20 most frequently encountered problems faced by EU citizens and businesses when travelling, moving or working abroad. The report, which was requested in the Single Market Act (IP/11/469), deals with issues such as professional qualifications, social security, tax barriers, access to finance and on-line shopping, to name just a few.
Special Eurobarometer: Right to move and reside freely in the EU and right to good administration are the most important citizens’ rights
For 48% of European citizens, the right to move and reside freely in the European Union is the most important citizens’ right. The second most important right is the right to good administration by the EU institutions (33%), followed by the right to lodge complaints with the European Ombudsman (32%). These are among the results of a Special Eurobarometer on citizens’ rights and the performance of the EU administration, commissioned by the European Parliament and the Ombudsman and conducted by TNS Opinion & Social.
The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, commented: “The citizens’ right to move and reside freely in the EU is clearly one of the main achievements of European integration. The European Network of Ombudsmen has a key role to play in ensuring that citizens can exercise this right in practice. I am also encouraged to see that citizens consider the right to good administration and the right to lodge complaints with the European Ombudsman as very important. These responses strengthen the Ombudsman’s role as a crucial link between European citizens and the EU administration.”
85% lack sufficient information about the Charter of Fundamental Rights
72% of the respondents stated that they do not feel well informed about the Charter of Fundamental Rights. A further 13% have never even heard of the Charter.
42% not satisfied with transparency in the EU administration
According to the survey, 42% of European citizens are not satisfied with the level of transparency in the EU administration, while only 9% are satisfied. Their satisfaction with the effectiveness (35% not satisfied) and service mindedness (33% not satisfied) of the EU institutions is also low. However, the survey shows that the better people are informed about the EU, the more highly they rate the performance of the EU administration.
52% of respondents say the Ombudsman should ensure that citizens know their rights and how to use them
Half of young Europeans ready to work abroad
According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, 53% of young people in Europe are willing or keen to work in another European country, but lack of cash discourages many of them from taking a first step towards this by spending part of their education abroad. The survey highlights a huge gap between the widespread desire of young people to work abroad and actual workforce mobility: less than 3% of Europe’s working population currently lives outside their home country. The survey, conducted in the context of the Commission’s ‘Youth on the Move’ strategy, is published on the eve of the 2011 European Youth Week (15-21 May).
Consumers’ awareness and skills worryingly low, survey finds
According to a Eurobarometer study published today on the occasion of the 2011 European Consumer Summit, less than 50% of EU consumers surveyed felt confident, knowledgeable and protected as consumers. Empowered consumers find it easy to identify the best offer, know their rights and seek redress when things go wrong. Vulnerable consumers find it hard to understand the choices they face, don’t know their rights, suffer more problems and are unwilling to act when things go wrong. Detriment reported by consumers is estimated at around 0.4% of EU GDP with more than one fifth of EU consumers reporting a problem in the previous 12 months. Although most consumers do complain to retailers, most of those who do not get a satisfactory response take no further action. Significant numbers of consumers have problems making everyday calculations, understanding key information and in recognizing illegal sales practices or knowing their rights. A majority of respondents did not know their right to return, have repaired or replaced a faulty product.
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EU survey shows many Europeans don’t know how much they throw away
Almost 60% of EU citizens do not think their household produces too much waste, according to a Eurobarometer survey published today. This is in stark contrast to statistics that show Europeans throw away on average more than half a tonne of rubbish every year. The survey also reveals a lack of awareness of the amount of food waste generated. Most citizens agreed that better waste collection services were needed and 8 in 10 said environmental aspects of a product, such as whether it was reusable or recyclable, were important factors in purchasing decisions.
EU — European companies turn to eco-innovation to tackle rising input costs and scarcity of materials
The competitiveness of European businesses is increasingly vulnerable to growing materials scarcity which causes price volatility. A Eurobarometer survey published today and presented at the 10th European Forum on Eco-innovation in Birmingham, UK, shows that 75% of European businesses have experienced an increase in material costs in the past five years, while 90% expect price increases in the future. To tackle this challenge, small and medium-sized businesses are looking to eco-innovation as their answer. However, many businesses are still not fully aware of the potential effects of natural resource scarcity on their future operations.
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Rare diseases cause great suffering to many EU citizens. Up to 36 million Europeans are affected, and need proper diagnosis and treatment. A Eurobarometer survey published today, on the 4th World Rare Diseases Day, and on the day of the formal adoption of the Cross Border Healthcare Directive, reveals widespread support for action on rare diseases at EU level. 95% of respondents believe there should be more European cooperation in this area and that rare disease patients should have the right to access appropriate care in another Member State. Approximately 2 out of every 3 respondents know that rare disease affect a limited number of people and require very specific care. Almost 1 in every 5 personally knows of someone suffering from a rare disease.