What does the wider public think of EU food and farming?

Key public opinion research showcases how sustainability, rural vitality and food security play into perceptions of EU food and farming.
calendar icon 18 October 2020
clock icon 7 minute read

Nearly three out of four Europeans are aware of the common agricultural policy (CAP) and consider all citizens benefit from it, according to the latest EU-wide Eurobarometer survey of public opinion about agriculture and the CAP published today by the European Commission.

The survey was conducted from August to September 2020, including more than 27,200 respondents in 27 Member States. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the methodology had to be adapted, with some interviews conducted online.

Nearly all respondents (95 percent) think that agriculture and rural areas are important for "our future" in the European Union. Moreover, the survey shows that more EU citizens are aware of the CAP (73 percent today, 6 percentage points (pp) more than in 2017) and believe that the CAP benefits all citizens, not only farmers (76 percent today, 15 pp more than in 2017). In all Member States, a majority of citizens share this view, except Malta.

Furthermore, citizens’ views on what the main objectives of the CAP should be remain similar to the findings of the 2017 survey. Most believe that providing safe, healthy food of high quality should be the main objective, representing the view of 62 percent of respondents, same as in 2017. This view is also reflected at national level, where citizens think it should be the CAP’s top priority. This year’s survey also found that 52 percent of citizens think that one of the main objectives should be protecting the environment and tackling climate change, as well as ensuring a fair standard of living for farmers (51 percent). These have slightly increased by respectively 2 and 3 pp.

More Europeans think that the EU is fulfilling its role regarding the key objectives of the CAP. In comparison with 2017, all areas including food security, sustainability, safe and quality food increased by at least 5 pp. The area where citizens believe that the EU is most fulfilling its role is food security, with 80 percent of respondents agreeing to that, an 8 pp increase since 2017.

In terms of financial support, the survey found that an increased number of citizens think that the support provided to farmers is too low, increasing by 13 percentage points, from 26 percent of respondents in 2017 to 39 percent in 2020. This was also reflected when citizens were asked if they believe that the EU should increase its support to farmers. 56 percent of citizens think it should increase over the next ten years, up 12pp compared to 2017 and 27pp compared to 2007.

More citizens are now aware of the organic farming logo. The survey found that 56 percent of respondents are aware of the logo, an increase of 29 pp compared to 2017. The awareness of other logos such as the geographical indications logos have remained stable.

Even though a growing share of citizens believe that agriculture is one of the major causes of climate change (from 29 percent in 2010 to 42 percent in 2020), the majority of citizens believe that agriculture has already made a major contribution in fighting climate change, with 55 percent holding this view, up from 46 percent in 2010.

In terms of rural areas, citizens most believe that the environment and landscape (82 percent), access to leisure and cultural activities (56 percent) and educational facilities (54 percent) can be qualified as good. However, when asked how rural areas have evolved in the last 10 years, access to high speed internet is highlighted as the one that improved most (55 percent agree), while job opportunities is the one seen as having got worse (42 percent agree).

Finally, citizens believe that the most important benefits provided by forests include providing animals with natural habitats, preserving biodiversity and conserving nature (69 percent), absorbing carbon dioxide as well as contributing to fight climate change and its detrimental effects (65 percent).

The full report of the EU-survey will be published later in November, accompanied by country factsheets. The summary is now available online.

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