Covid-19: Bulgarians among least supportive of restrictions in EU, survey shows

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Bulgarians were among the least supportive of Covid-19 lockdown measures among EU nationals, judging the economic impact of such restrictions greater than the health benefits, according to a survey conducted in September-October at the request of European Parliament and published on November 20.

A total of 69 per cent of respondents said the damage was greater than the benefits, the highest in the EU, which was eight percentage points higher than in a previous survey in June.  Only 26 per cent said the health benefits were greater than the damage, the lowest in the bloc.

At EU level, opinions were split almost evenly, with 49 per cent thinking the damage was greater than the benefits, while 45 per cent had the opposite opinion.

In terms of the pandemic’s impact on personal income, 53 per cent of Bulgarian respondents said that it had already done so, compared to 39 per cent on average in the EU as a whole.

Forty per cent of Bulgarians said that they had to use personal savings earlier than planned and 37 per cent said they lost income, while 24 per cent said that they experienced partial or full unemployment.

As regards the measures taken by their national government, Bulgarians were also among the least favourable, with only 28 per cent saying they supported such measures, the second lowest in the EU.  That number was also eight percentage points lower than in June.

At EU level, respondents were more likely to support measures taken by their respective national governments (49 per cent) than oppose (40 per cent).

Similarly, Bulgarians were among those least satisfied by the measures taken by the government so far, with only 32 per cent satisfied (second lowest in the EU), down 14 percentage points from June.

Opposition to any limitations on personal freedoms due to the pandemic was also high among Bulgarians – at 58 per cent, second highest in the EU, as support for such limitations went down by 13 percentage points since June.

Asked about their image of the EU since the start of the pandemic, 35 per cent said that it worsened (compared to 30 per cent at EU level) and only 38 per cent said that it conjured a positive image (compared to 41 per cent at EU level).

Only 24 per cent of Bulgarian respondents were satisfied with EU solidarity during the Covid-19 pandemic (down 13 percentage points) and 70 per cent said the bloc should have more competences to deal with such crises (against a 66 per cent average in the EU as a whole).

As regards EU’s top priorities in its response to coronavirus 36 per cent of Bulgarians said it should ensure sufficient medical supplies, 35 per cent were in favour of direct financial support to EU member states and 32 per cent said EU budget rules should be relaxed to enable member states to support their national economies with state aid.

Despite all that, asked about what feelings described their current emotional state, the most frequent answer among Bulgarians was “hope” (42 per cent), followed by “uncertainty” (38 per cent) and “frustration” (33 per cent).  Bulgarians were also more likely to feel confident (at 27 per cent, fourth highest in EU) and least likely to feel fearful (nine per cent, joint lowest).

The survey was conducted online by Kantar between September 25 and October 7 2020, among 24 812 respondents in all 27 EU member states.

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