(22 February 2018) – According to a Eurobarometer survey published today, a huge majority of EU citizens (92%) think agriculture and rural areas are important for the future, but opinions about the situation of rural areas compared to 10 years ago vary across countries – sometimes widely.
Views of some 28 000 respondents about the change in rural areas compared to ten years ago are mixed. Communications is the area that they consider has seen the most improvement. Almost two thirds say broadband Internet coverage and mobile phone services have improved in the last ten years (64%).
Opinion is divided about access to social, health and cultural services: 34% say this has improved, while 32% say access has become worse. There are only six countries where at least half say access these have improved: Malta (72%), Poland (60%), Cyprus (54%), Luxembourg, Ireland (both 52%) and Slovenia (50%).
There is also a lack of consensus when it comes to social inclusion: 30% think this has improved (only 16% in Croatia, 19% in Sweden and 21% in France) while 30% say it has got worse in the last ten years.
Three in ten (30%) think the environment and landscape has improved, but 36% say it has become worse. Respondents in Lithuania (63%), Poland (59%), and Ireland (56%) are the most likely to say these have improved, compared to only 16% in Bulgaria, 18% in France and 20% in Greece.
In the case of economic growth and jobs 27% think these have improved, while more than four in ten think they have got worse (43%). There are only three countries where at least half of all respondents say these have improved: Malta (73%), Poland (64%) and Ireland (56%).