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Public opinion and EU security: exploring the expectations gap

Written by Clare Ferguson,

Security and the fight against terrorism have been headline news for many months now, with terrorist attacks on European soil bringing security policy to the forefront of EU citizens’ minds. A recent Eurobarometer survey looked at the perceptions and expectations of Europeans regarding EU action on security and defence matters, including combating terrorism. EPRS has identified the gaps between citizens’ expectations in this field and the potential for increased EU intervention to work alongside Member States to protect Europeans.

Security and defence policy

Public expectations and EU commitment regarding security and defence

Decisions on security and defence policy are generally a Member State matter, taken behind closed doors. Nevertheless, almost two thirds of EU citizens would like to see greater EU intervention in this policy area. Although the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) allocates the role of regional security provider to the EU, Member States are reluctant to use the mechanisms provided for in the Treaty of Lisbon, despite their potential positive impact on EU security. Financial support for EU action could also be more flexible.

The fight against terrorism

Public expectations and EU commitment on the fight against terrorism

Perception of the international, and indeed national, response to terrorism and radicalisation drives much of the current EU political discourse. European citizens demonstrate strong expectations for EU action in the fight against terrorism. As with security and defence, EU Member States hold the primary role in this policy area. However, there is scope for increased EU involvement within the current legal framework, and financing for counter-terrorism measures is increasing.

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See other policy areas covered with this Eurobarometer.

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