Czechs’ trust in EU institutions slumps to all-time low
An opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency in February of this year shows that trust in EU institutions has dropped to an all-time low. The gradual slide from the initial 60 percent support rating to the present 34 percent is being attributed to a number of factors – including euro-sceptic governments, the euro debt crisis and negative reports in the media.
“One of the reasons (for the declining trust rating) is that the issues of the European Union have been neglected by the majority of Czech politicians and political parties. The prevailing mainstream in the Czech Republic was stressing national values, self-protecting attitudes and there was no real, so to say, passionate supporter of the EU on the domestic political scene.”
The country’s new centre-left government has now affected a U-turn in the country’s foreign policy with regard to the EU – vowing to bring the Czech Republic back to the EU mainstream and take a constructive attitude to EU integration. This will naturally also mean working to change the negative attitude of the public to EU institutions. Jan Hartl says this will not only require bringing the public more information about the EU, but also spreading the word about EU successes rather than just focussing on the failures.
With the EU flag now flying at Prague Castle and the government vowing to pursue a more positive line on EU matters, Jan Hartl says the public’s lost trust in the European Union can be rebuilt. But he adds that Brussels itself should re-think its communications strategy.
“Part of the problem lies within the EU itself - in its ability (or lack of) to communicate its goals to the public –not just to the Czech public but to people in all EU member states. It is a well-known fact that the agenda of the EU is not very well comprehensible to the European public in general.”