The EU is less safe than it was two years ago, according to its citizens

The perception of security was one of the main issues responded to by 28,093 citizens in the June dataset of the Eurobarometer. This survey was carried out in 28 EU countries, involving a physical presence in the homes of the people interviewed (all aged 15 or over). In Spain, 1,007 people were interviewed.

The results show that the perception of security goes down as the area being asked about increases in size. Therefore, the vast majority of European citizens consider that their immediate environment is safe: 91% feel that their neighbourhood is secure and 90% think the same of their city. This large majority goes down to 80% when they arePG004899 asked if their country is safe. And when the question is whether the EU is secure, the percentage then falls to 68%.


Moreover, there is a paradox in that, in relation with previous years, the perception of security in immediate contexts (neighbourhood and city) has increased slightly,[1] whereas the perception that the European Union is a safe area has gone down by10 points (it was 79% in 2015).

In the report’s presentation of results, published in December 2017, terrorist attacks are mentioned (without referring to the ones that took place in Catalonia, as the survey was done two months earlier) as one of the underlying reasons affecting the sense of security. The motive is that, while the feeling of security is high, in places where security problems have been most serious, especially when related to terrorism, these scores have dropped and have a bigger effect on EU security than on local contexts.

The review also asked about the importance of five phenomena that involve a challenge to EU security (terrorism, organised crime, manmade natural disasters, cybercrime and the EU’s external borders) and all are considered to be important by over 85% of those interviewed.

The results of the assessment of the actions carried out by the police to combat certain areas of crime are not as positive. Therefore, while the fight against terrorism or drug trafficking and cybercrime are mainly regarded to be sufficient, most of those interviewed consider that their police force does not do enough to combat money laundering and corruption.

In the same Eurobarometer June database, citizens were also asked about their attitudes to cybersecurity. Among the results, published in September, the increase in public preoccupation about this problem was stressed.

The EU open data portal also allows for the access and downloading of data from other editions of the Eurobarometer.

[1] The Catalan public security survey (ESPC) also asks about the perception of security in the municipality. Although the wording of the question is different from the Eurobarometer, the 2015 results also show that the perception of security in the municipality has increased since 2011. The fieldwork of the 2017 edition was done in November 2017, only a few months after the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on 17th August. It will be necessary to wait for the results of the next editions of the ESPC to be able to assess the effect of the terrorist attacks on the perception of security of people residing in Catalonia.


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