MEP Mairead McGuinness
“The EU cannot survive without the support of citizens,” Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament said, following the latest Parlemeter survey which shows a majority of Irish (84 percent) citizens believe EU membership has benefited their country (60pc EU-wide).
“There are some very positive responses from citizens reflected in this latest survey across the 28 member states, but some warning notes too. The Union was founded for peace, prosperity and democracy and to ultimately improve the lives of our citizens. However, the EU cannot count on the support of people if we do not listen to their concerns and priorities. We need the support of citizens to remain relevant and unified.”
McGuinness pointed to survey findings including that a large majority of Europeans (71pc) feel there is more solidarity amongst Europeans than issues which separate them. In Ireland that figure was even higher at 84pc. Meanwhile, 48pc said the EU contributes to economic growth in Ireland and 40pc of Irish citizens believe the EU improves Irish people’s standard of living.
“When asked if they felt things were going in the right or wrong direction in the EU, half of Irish respondents (50pc) said things are going in the wrong direction, slightly less than the 54pc European average.
“In contrast, more Irish people (45pc) feel their voice counts at EU level, compared to the EU average (37pc). Significantly, 51pc of Irish people said they want the European Parliament to play a more important role at EU level,” McGuinness said.
When asked what matters the European Parliament should defend as a matter of priority, a majority place great importance on human rights; freedom of speech; gender equality; solidarity between EU countries and between the Union and poor countries; dialogue between cultures and religions; the protection of minorities; and the abolition of the death penalty around the world.
“The European Parliament is the only directly-elected EU institution and has a responsibility to listen to and represent the citizens of Europe when shaping future policy. Only then can we ensure that the EU remains inclusive and unified for the benefit of all citizens,” MEP McGuinness added.