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Unemployment the main challenge

20/10/2015 12:45
Cypriot citizens at a percentage of 78% believe that unemployment is the first and main challenge facing the EU and its member states in order to face the future. This is the highest percentage in the EU, according to the latest issue of the European Parliament Barometer released on October 14.

Based on the data released, Cypriots consider unemployment as the biggest challenge, in contrast to the average of EU member states which point to immigration and terrorism as the biggest challenges.

Although, immigration presents an increase of 15% compared to 2013, just 38% of Cypriots think that it is the second most important challenge for EU. Social inequalities are considered the third main challenge for the EU, decreasing by 6 points compared to 2013.

As regards the immigration issue, 81% of respondents in Cyprus were in favor of more decision making at a European level. A percentage of 75% considers financial support by the EU to member states currently facing the most migratory flows on their coasts and borders as a positive move.

An 85% absolutely agree with the opinion that legal migration procedures must be the same in all EU member states, while 77% think that these procedures must be simplified. As regards asylum seekers, Cypriots’ opinions coincide with those of the majority of EU citizens as 88% agrees to their distribution among EU member states and 91% to the way of their distribution on the basis of binding quotas.

As about one out of two Europeans finds the presence of immigrants from other EU member states in their country as positive for their national economy, in Cyprus just 31% of respondents agrees with this opinion. A percentage of 64% states that the Cypriot economy does not need legal immigrants.

The percentage of Cypriots considering access to jobs for young people as problematic is reduced by 12 percentage points to 30% in 2015, while 3 out of 4 Cypriots think that unemployment is the biggest problem for the EU.

On the issue of dealing with the crisis 61% of Cypriots think that member states tended to act individually, while 33% think that there was a coordinated effort between member states. In addition, 44% expect a return to growth in the coming years, a percentage exceeding the EU average by 10%, while 36% estimate that the crisis is going to last for many years. Furthermore, 68% of Cypriots find that the financial situation of their households has got worse in the last two years compared to 40% of the EU average, while 23% state that it hasn’t changed.


In the EU, 66% of respondents think that ‘more decisions’ should be taken at European level, instead of by national governments, however, the results vary considerably among countries, on all issues.

European citizens were equally divided on the issue of asylum seekers. There were considerable differences ranging from 97% in Germany and 94% in Sweden to 31% in Slovakia and 33% in the Czech Republic in the question of a better distribution of asylum seekers. In Greece and Italy, which have to shoulder the heaviest responsibility for initial reception of migrants, the figures are 91% and 84% respectively.

Out of the 97% of Germans who believe that asylum-seekers should be better distributed, 89% support binding quotas. Conversely, out of the 31% of Slovaks who approve a better distribution of asylum-seekers, 51% favour binding quotas.

At EU level 51% of Europeans agree with the approach that legal migrants are necessary to work in some sectors of the economy. The highest degrees of support can be found in Sweden (77%), Germany and Denmark (72%), and the United Kingdom (70%). Among the 19 Member States where fewer than 50% answered yes, those least in favour are Slovakia (19%), Bulgaria (24%), Hungary (24%), followed by the Czech Republic (25%), Romania (28%), Greece (31%) and Slovenia (32%).

In five countries, however, there is an absolute majority who do not consider it desirable to have nationals of other Member States, the figures being 66% for Cyprus, 60% for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, 58% for Greece, and 56% for Hungary.

At national level, the perception that Member States have taken their own action in response to the crisis has risen steeply in Cyprus (61%, up 28 points compared with September 2011) and in Greece (61%, up 21 points), where, in 2011, coordinated action between Member States was a majority.

The least optimistic countries are Greece, Cyprus and France. In Greece, 90% of respondents say that their situation has worsened in the last two years, and 12%, that it will improve in the next two years. In Cyprus, 68% say that their situation has deteriorated in the past, and 29% say that theirs will improve in the future. In France, 57% say that their situation has worsened in the last two years, and 22% say that theirs will improve in the future.

Concerns about immigration and terrorism, which already recorded high rates in previous reports, presented the largest increases compared to 2013. For 47% of respondents immigration is the biggest challenge facing the EU and its member states, recording an increase of 33% compared to 2013. Terrorism concerns have been expressed by 26% of respondents compared to 11% in 2013.


Unemployment is still considered the second biggest challenge, after immigration, facing the EU despite a decrease in the EU average by 6%. In addition, 49% of European citizens consider unemployment to be the most urgent challenge, with the respective percentage exceeding 50% in nine countries.

The research has been conducted between September 19 and September 29 with the participation of 28.150 Europeans aged at least 15 years old. During this period, the arrival of migrants on the borders of the EU and migrants’ tragic deaths had been broadly covered by international media.