The Maltese are among a large European minority who give more importance to price stability than the defence of values such as democracy and freedom, according to a Eurostat survey.

When asked whether the defence of common European values, such as freedom and democracy, should be prioritised over maintaining prices and the cost of living, nearly six out of 10 (59%) of Europeans agreed, against some 39% who would, instead, prioritise stability, the survey report says.

Malta was the top third country (63%) whose citizens prioritise price stability over the defence of common values.

“Europeans are much more likely to consider that the defence of freedom and democracy must be a priority even if it impacts prices and cost of living,” the survey says.

“Yet, in many cases, the choice seems difficult, with the difference between both answers being negligible. In some countries, price stability would be prioritised by a majority of respondents.”

Deteriorating living standards 

The survey also found that some 55% of Maltese respondents felt that the consequences of the war in Ukraine had reduced their standard of living, in terms of the goods and services they could afford, and expect this to remain the status quo over the next year.

A further 41% of Maltese said that the war in Ukraine had not yet impacted their standard of living but fully expect it to do so over the course of the coming year.

“While inflation and rising costs of living were already important issues before the war, and partially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation became exacerbated with the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine,” the study said.

“Almost nine in 10 Europeans have either already experienced a reduction in living standards, which they expect to continue (40%) or which will occur (47%) over the next year. Only one in ten (11%) do not think the war will have an impact on their standard of living.” 

Maltese are very positive about the EU

Yet, despite this, the overall positivity about the EU has remained high among the Maltese and across Europe in general.

Malta placed second among countries that hold the most positive image of the European Parliament, with 62 per cent of respondents having a positive outlook on the institution.

Malta also saw the second-largest rise in positivity towards the EU, increasing by 12 percentage points since the last survey published in 2021.

Some 80% of Maltese respondents said that they think it is important that their country is an EU member state, the sixth-highest in Europe, with 50% of those saying that EU membership is extremely important to them.

This share increased by 16 percentage points when compared to last year for Maltese respondents.

A good 75% of Maltese respondents are optimistic about the future of the EU, the fourth-highest among member states, while Malta was the second country where citizens most felt what brings EU citizens together is more important than what sets them apart (92%).

“Compared to six months ago, the feeling that things are going in the right direction in the EU has increased by 10 percentage points,” the survey said.

“For the first time over the past decade, positive feeling surpasses the negative: 43% of respondents now say that things are going in the right direction, just above the 40% who think they are going in the wrong direction.”

When it comes to participating in matters pertaining to Europe, 93% of Maltese respondents said this is important to them, the fifth highest among member states and an increase of 24 percentage points.

Some 70% of Maltese who participated in the survey said that voting in European elections is the best way of ensuring their voice is heard by decision-makers while 79% said that if a European Parliament election were to be held next week they would likely vote.

Around four in 10 respondents (39%) from Malta said they followed current affairs in Europe whether there is an election going on or not, the second-highest figure among EU member states.

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