BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Almost 40% of European Union citizens feel worse off due to the coronavirus economic crunch, with Hungarians hurt the most even before the second wave of the pandemic, a pan-European survey showed on Friday.
The poll, commissioned by the European Parliament, was conducted online by Kantar between Sept. 25 and Oct. 7 among 24,812 participants in all 27 EU countries.
This was before the second wave of infections in Europe that caused new partial lockdowns across the bloc and is expected to cause economic output to shrink in the last three months of the year in a double-dip recession.
According to the survey, 39% percent of respondents in the whole EU said the COVID-19 pandemic has already impacted their personal income.
Hungary was the worst affected with 44% of citizens reporting a financial hit.
For the first time, more Europeans now say that economic damage caused by restrictions outweigh the health benefits which these measures aim to achieve.
A solid majority of EU citizens believe the 27-nation bloc should have more competences in fighting the pandemic and the more money to do so.
But the EU’s 1.8 trillion euro financial package to help deal with the effects of the pandemic is now in limbo because of opposition from nationalist governments in Poland and Hungary which oppose linking money to respect for democratic principles.
Still, the survey showed that 77% of EU citizens think the EU should only provide funds to governments which abide by the rule of law.
That is also the popular sentiment in Poland and Hungary where citizens disagree with their governments. The survey said 72% of people in both countries support the link between money and observing the rule of law.
Poland stands to get more than 130 billion euros from the financial package and Hungary more than 40 billion euros, if their governments unblock it.
The pandemic has also boosted the ratings of the European Union in general, with citizens’ attitudes becoming more positive over the course of 2020.
The proportion of respondents who have a positive image of the EU has increased steadily from 31% in April 2020 to 41% in at the start of October.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Toby Chopra)