Everyone in the EU is an EU citizen, but not everyone knows it, according to a new report from research office Eurobarometer. However, Romanians seem to be more switched on to European-ess than most. Despite calls from some politicians and commentators across Europe to restrict their rights, Romanians are the most aware of their status as EU citizens. The study investigated how aware Europeans were of their status and rights in the EU and found that 81 percent had at least come across the expression “EU citizen.” This was a slight increase on the previous survey, but when it came to understanding what being an EU citizen signified, far fewer Europeans could give a positive response. Only 46 percent of respondents said they knew what the term meant.
There were big discrepancies between countries: 95 percent of Romanians, the highest figure, were found to be familiar with the expression “citizen of the EU.” The percentage was also high in Italy (93 percent), Slovakia (91 percent), Bulgaria and Poland (both 90 percent). Perhaps surprisingly, awareness of EU citizenship was lowest in Germany, where only 57 percent of respondents had come across the phrase “citizen of the EU.” The figure appears very low and it could raise the question of semantics, although Eurobarometer makes no reference to linguistic factors in the survey.
Respondents in Italy (65 percent), Poland (64 percent) and Romania (63 percent) are the most likely to say they know what the term “citizen of the European Union” means. Meanwhile, only 19 percent of German, 24 percent of Latvian and 28 percent of Dutch respondents say the same.
The majority of respondents understood that citizenship was conferred automatically and did not need to be requested, as well as understanding that everyone holds EU and national citizenship and that there is no opt-out option. In each case, around 80 percent understood correctly.
The survey was carried out by TNS Opinion & Social network in the 27 EU states between November 8 and 10, 2012. Some 25,584 respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed via telephone in their mother tongue on behalf of Directorate-General for Justice.