The response of the EU to the COVID-19 pandemic has not exactly been unified. Despite finally reaching agreement on a €500bn rescue package on Thursday, this came after weeks of argument, particularly on measures such as coronabonds, and in the meantime seemingly a dearth of combined EU aid for the worst hit countries such as Italy & Spain. The package also is only a third of what the European Central Bank said may be needed to tackle the crisis.

The BBC's Europe editor, Katya Adler, writes that:

The EU is stumbling through this crisis as it has done through the migration and the financial crises before, for instance. The bloc is not about to disintegrate but scars will remain in countries that felt the chilly absence of EU solidarity in their hour of coronavirus need.

"This has not been our finest moment," a diplomat from an influential EU country told me. "Our response has come late and has been marred by nationalism. Solidarity went out the window with the first coronavirus victim."

TheJournal.ie notes that:

The Hague blocked the talks two days earlier by insisting that Italy, or any other country in need, deliver on governance targets – which Rome saw as a shocking demand during a health crisis.

and also that:

Despite 19 EU countries sharing a common currency, member states have reacted unilaterally to save their economies, giving richer countries such as Germany a big advantage over those with less spending power.

Given the lack of unity within the bloc that this seems to expose, how has public opinion towards the EU within EU member states changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? I appreciate that polls specifically asking about the bloc's reaction to the pandemic might be hard or impossible to find, in which case how has public opinion of the EU within EU member states changed over the last three months?

  • 3
    The Southern EU countries are always on the brink of falling apart and are always looking for more money from the Northern EU countries regardless of current events, so what exactly has changed in your eyes from before? Why would public perception change in your eyes?
    – Theik
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 7:39
  • 1
    @Theik I think I've clearly presented why I think public opinion might have changed; if it hasn't, or has improved, that's just as valid an answer as if it has worsened.
    – CDJB
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 7:45
  • This question is not neutrally worded. The quotes included represent only one side of the current debate. (See e.g. Theik's comment for the other side)
    – Sjoerd
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 0:22

1 Answer 1


It's harder to measure change in opinion, since that would require us to compare studies from before and after, or to find a study that was conducted over a longer period where respondents were questioned multiple times. Instead, I will present two studies which take a snapshot of public opinion in April 2020.

A study on public opinion in early April

Early in April, a study was conducted on government response. While most questions were aimed at the perception of national measures, there was also a question on the European Union. A quote on the study's methodology:

We surveyed over 7000 people representative of the adult population in seven European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, and the UK. The fieldwork was conducted online during April 2–15, 2020, using multi-sourced online panels provided by the market research company Dynata.

The results on trust in different institutions in best summarized in the figure from the paper below. Respondents were asked to rate their trust in these institutions on a scale from 1 to 5. Expressed in numbers, the paper wrote:

Furthermore, a similar north-south gradient was observed concerning the trust in the EU: trust was highest in Denmark (45 %), Germany (40 %), the Netherlands (39 %) and the UK (35 %), whereas it was lowest in Italy (24 %) and France (21 %). Portugal was an exception to this case since the corresponding value here constituted 46 %.

enter image description here Source: I.Sabat et al. United but divided: Policy responses and people’s perceptions in the EU during the COVID-19 outbreak

Eurobarometer survey in late April

Another survey was commissioned by the European Parliament, it's described as:

This is one of the few multinational surveys delving into European citizens’ attitudes and opinions over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, presenting the findings of a survey commissioned by the European Parliament and conducted by Kantar at the end of April 2020.

The results are presented in a report here. They also present a few infographics, where the one on the EU's response seems the most relevant to this question: enter image description here

The report also covers the question below for which results are presented in the screenshot of the report below:

How satisfied or not are you with the solidarity between EU Member States in fighting the Coronavirus pandemic? enter image description here

  • The "solidarity" question seems mis-designed. It only has two options, but in reality there are three opinions (not enough/correct/too much). The Dutch-Italian spat mentioned in the question was directly caused by an Italian expectation of (financial) solidarity which the Dutch considered inappropriate due to Italy's long history of breaking EU rules.
    – MSalters
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 11:13
  • @MSalters true, but in the end you're always going to have to simplify things in those polls. You came up with three options, but you could come up with many more ifs and buts, like conditions on reforms or helping out with hospital capacity. International cooperation is like relationships, and you can't capture all of that in multiple choice questions, I think. On the other hand you want to color in some maps, and then you lose some context. Nevertheless, it shows some interesting differences (e.g. different levels of satisfaction in the Frugal Four).
    – JJJ
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 11:37

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