Public approval in the European Union for measures to support Ukraine in resisting the Russian invasion remained remarkably solid several months into the war, although there are some signs that worries over rising costs and other concerns is curbing the initial enthusiasm, notably in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, a major survey conducted in March and June among some 12,000 EU citizens across all 27 member states has found.
The eupinions survey, conducted in March and June for Germany’s Bertelsmann Stiftung in cooperation with the King Baudouin Foundation, found that 60% backed the delivery of arms to Ukraine by the European Union. Belgians are slightly more favourable than the average, at 62%, although, in line with other countries, only 55% think that the Belgian federal government should confront Moscow by delivering arms directly.
Support for EU arms going to Ukraine has dipped by 3 percentage points in Belgium since March, while there was a 5-point drop in support for Belgium sending weaponry to Kyiv – both rather more than the 2-point average decline across the Union, though less than the 6- and 8-point drops in France, where Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally made gains in the presidential and parliamentary elections in April and June.
Support in Belgium for taking in Ukrainian refugees declined to 79% in June from 84% in the first weeks after the Russian invasion, while support for Ukraine joining the EU in the coming years dipped by 1 point.
Only in Italy was there a majority opposed to sending EU – or nationally sourced - weapons to Ukraine, while in Poland fully 84% want the EU to arm their neighbours. Support for arms deliveries dipped two percentage points over three months across the EU as a whole.
With a cost-of-living crisis driven by rising energy prices caused by the war dominating Europeans’ personal concerns, according to the eupinions poll, there are signs that the personal price to be paid for some action against Russia is causing hesitation – 72% of Europeans (and 71% of Belgians) support greater independence in energy supplies for the European Union, which has long imported Russian gas and oil, even if that means paying higher prices. That support, however, is down 3 percentage points from March – and has dropped by 5 points in Belgium.
"The rising cost of living crisis is already a major concern for 44 percent of Europeans. And they will feel the effects of the war even more acutely in their daily lives during the winter season," says Isabell Hoffmann, project lead and Europe expert at the Bertelsmann Stiftung. "This will be a stress test for the strong approval that the EU’s Ukraine policy has enjoyed since the war began."
eupinions is an independent platform dedicated to European public opinion. Launched in 2015 by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, it has been supported by the King Baudouin Foundation since 2020. Using state-of-the-art data collection techniques, it takes soundings quarterly across all EU.