Members' Research Service By / August 9, 2016

Public opinion and EU action on the environment, and agriculture: exploring the expectations gap

Written by Clare Ferguson, As over half of EU territory is rural, the vitality of the European countryside is a…

Public expectations and EU commitment on environmental protection

Written by Clare Ferguson,

As over half of EU territory is rural, the vitality of the European countryside is a subject close to citizens’ hearts. The twin objectives of protecting the environment and promoting EU agriculture are thus high on the EU political agenda. A recent Eurobarometer survey demonstrates that citizens have a largely positive perception of EU action in these areas, but would like to see greater EU support. As the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the objectives set by the Paris Agreement to combat climate change are very recent, EPRS looks at how these measures should go towards meeting citizens’ expectations.

Environmental protection

Public expectations and EU commitment on environmental protection
Public expectations and EU commitment on environmental protection

A majority of EU citizens would like to see increased EU action to protect the environment (with some geographical variations). However, Member States are responsible for financing and implementing the protection measures already agreed, and some gaps remain. EU policy aims to move towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy, to safeguard biodiversity and to protect human health through legislation on air, chemicals, climate, nature, waste and water. Implementing the Paris Agreement and the EU’s commitment to integrate climate action into all major EU policies, allocating at least 20% of the EU budget to climate action objectives, may help to bridge the expectation gap.

Agriculture

Public expectations and EU commitment on agriculture
Public expectations and EU commitment on agriculture

Everyone has heard of the ‘CAP’ – the Common Agricultural Policy – although few are well versed in the details of exactly how the EU supports farmers and ensures a secure food supply. The vast majority of Europeans (94%) consider agriculture and rural areas to be important for their future. Half of EU citizens, however, would like to see more EU intervention in agriculture. The EU reformed the CAP completely in 2013, introducing direct payments to farmers, environmental measures, and action to mitigate market volatility. The EU aims to ‘spend less but better’ on agriculture in future.

Read the complete briefing on:

See other policy areas covered with this Eurobarometer.


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