Maltese people feel migration is still the main problem facing the EU, despite the health and economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, an EU-wide survey has found. 

According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, published on Friday, 61 per cent of Maltese, by far the largest proportion in the EU, feel that migration is the greatest challenge facing the EU.  

Across the rest of the bloc, public finances and health are viewed as the biggest concerns.  

The survey found that Maltese respondents believe health ought to be the second-highest priority for the EU (30 per cent), followed by the economic situation at 22 per cent.  

EU’s fight against coronavirus

Just under half of Maltese - 46 per cent - said they were satisfied with the EU’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.  This is roughly in line with the EU average.  

Asked what they think the EU should prioritise in its anti-coronavirus efforts, the majority of Maltese think financial resources should be directed towards the development and roll-out of a vaccine. 

Some 58 per cent of Maltese said they trusted the EU when it comes to the way it handled the coronavirus outbreak.  This is in line with the way most other Europeans feel.  

The Maltese are however not keen on containment measures and were among the least likely to say they were happy with staying indoors, wearing masks, and other restrictive measures.  

Do Maltese trust the EU?

Not so much. Less than half of the Maltese respondents said they trusted the EU.

Around 45 per cent of Maltese respondents said they trusted the EU and its institutions. This is down eight per cent from last year - a notable shift. 

Meanwhile, 36 per cent of the Maltese said they did not trust Brussels and 19 per cent did not know whether they trusted the EU.  

The Irish are the most trusting of Brussels at 75 per cent, and at the other end of the spectrum are Malta’s neighbours Italy, with just 28% saying they trust the Union.  

Asked how they perceived the EU, more than half of the Maltese, or 56 per cent, were indifferent, and just a quarter said they have a positive perception of it.  

One in 10 Maltese views the EU negatively.  

Maltese are among the least satisfied (41 per cent) with the EU’s democratic credentials.  In fact, only Greeks, at 34 per cent, are less impressed.  

How are things going at home?

Meanwhile, asked what they think of the situation in Malta, local respondents were largely positive, with 60 per cent giving it the thumbs up.  

Although the Maltese remain among the most optimistic about the state of their home country, they have also had the largest change in mood. 

The 60 per cent who said they felt positive about the situation in Malta was around 20 per cent less than those who felt that way in Autumn of last year.   

The green deal

Asked which objectives should be given top priority in a European Green Deal, the Maltese believe the fight against single-use plastic is the leading concern.  

This is in line with the views of respondents from other member states, who, on average, list this as their leading priority along with the push towards renewable energy.  

Cleaner energy sources were the second choice of Maltese respondents.  

Government reacts

In a statement, the government said the survey showed that despite the pandemic, the Maltese had remained optimistic in the past months. 

The government referred to data showing that 58 per cent of the population trusted the government when compared to 40 per cent in the rest of the EU.

The trust in government was seven per cent higher than that in November of 2019, the government added.

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