EPRS Admin By / May 4, 2021

Gap between perceptions and preferences

Gap between perceptions and preferences for EU budget spending, 2008/2020

Gap between perceptions and preferences for EU budget spending, 2008/2020

There were seven policy areas with an underspending perception gap in 2020 (see Figure 14). The largest gaps here are in the following policy areas: Employment, social affairs and public health (a gap of 19 percentage points – 7 % perceived priority and 26 % desired priority); Climate change (a gap of 9 percentage points – 6 % perceived priority and 15 % desired priority); and Education, training, culture and media (a gap of 7 percentage points – 3 % perceived priority and 10 % desired priority).
There are eight policy areas with overspending perception gap in 2020. The largest gaps here are in the following policy areas – Administrative and personnel costs (a gap of 14 percentage points – 15 % perceived priority and 1 % desired priority); and Economic growth and monetary policy (a gap of 11 percentage points – 17 % perceived priority and 6 % desired priority).
Comparing the magnitude of the gaps in 2008 and 2020, we see that the change in most policy areas was small. In six policy areas, the change of the magnitude of the gap registered a difference of up to two percentage points. Three policy areas were in the group of the underspending perception gap in 2008 and moved to the overspending perception gap in 2020 (Economic growth and monetary policy, Energy issues and transport, and Immigration issues). One policy area – Regional investment – switched groups the other way round. For all of these policy areas, however, the gap had been very small and minor changes in the levels of the expressed desire and/or perception of EU priority spending had been sufficient to change the relationship between these two variables. Economic growth and monetary policy was the only exception. It experienced the largest change –17 percentage points – compared to all remaining policy areas. The perception of EU spending priority in this area was almost the same for the two studied years: 15.1 % in 2008 and 16.7 % in 2020. The significant change in the magnitude and the direction of the gap was due to differences between the declared desire for EU priority spending – 21 % in 2008 and 6 % in 2020. This difference between the levels of change in the two variables creates doubts that the change in people’s answers regarding this policy was due to the change of its name in the survey.

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