Business Confidence

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A significant majority of people surveyed in Europe at the request of the European Commission continue to think that the situation of their national economy is tough, a Eurobarometer survey carried out in May showed on Friday. There is a great difference between the member states how they perceive the state of their economy. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Hungary are the most pessimistic member states. I was in Ireland again recently and the same feeling I have for everywhere else I have travelled over these past 3-4 years of recession – the big cities whilst the jobs numbers are down, it still feels “business as usual”. I say this about a good cross section of cities in Europe from Amsterdam to Dublin from London to Vienna …… It is, I believe, when you get into the countryside or outside the country capitals, where the real gloom and doom begins to set in, where the jobs have disappeared – why the boats and planes to Australia, Canada and US are laden with some of Europe’s finest young talent.

“Although there are significant variations between countries, there are signs that Europeans are becoming less pessimistic, with more people saying that the worst of the crisis is behind us. 30% of Europeans think that the crisis’ impact on the job market has already reached its peak (a rise of 7 points since the previous survey in autumn 2011),” the survey said.

The latest report presented the first results of the Standard Eurobarometer 77, which was carried out between 12 and 27 May 2012, in 34 countries or territories: the 27 European Union Member States, the six candidate countries (Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Iceland, Montenegro and Serbia), and the Turkish Cypriot Community in the part of the country that is not controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

There are significant differences of opinion within the European Union: more than 80 percentage points separate the Member States in which the public is positive about their country’s economic situation from those that are negative.

In Sweden, Luxembourg and Germany, more than three-quarters of respondents say that the situation of their national economy is good. In contrast, fewer than 5% of respondents agree in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece.

An analysis of the national results confirms the primacy of economic issues in all the Member States. Unemployment is the most frequently mentioned concern in 17 Member States, with very high scores in Spain (76%), Portugal (68%), Sweden (63%), Ireland (62%) and Hungary (57%). Spanish unemployment hits record high this week at 24.6% out of work as Madrid struggles to reverse recession.

The economic situation is the first item mentioned in six Member States: Greece (66%), the Netherlands (56%), Slovenia (55%), Romania (45%), the Czech Republic (39%) and Belgium (27%).

Rising prices are the main concern in Estonia (51%), Malta (42%) and Austria (37%).

Government debt is the main worry in Germany (37%) and this issue also figures prominently in the Netherlands (28%) and Austria (27%) where it is ranked in third place.


In line with the stability noted in the way Europeans perceive their personal situations, expectations as regards the short-term outlook for their household and employment situations have changed little since the Standard Eurobarometer of autumn 2011 (EB76). The aggregate results of the 27 Member States reveal that approximately three in four Europeans consider that the next twelve months will be the same or better.

However, although expectations for the economy over the next twelve months remain fairly pessimistic, they have nevertheless improved significantly since autumn 2011: the proportion of Europeans who fear that the situation will get worse has fallen not only at national level (37%, -7 percentage points) but also at European (39%, -5) and world (32%, -9) levels.

The Pan European HR Network is also starting to see signs of movement in the job market with a number of largest members suggesting they will start fresh hiring initiatives towards end of 2012.

Marc Coleman is director of the Pan European HR Network. You can connect with Marc on twitter @HRNEurope or via LinkedIn. Our recent productions include: HR Tech Europe, Next Generation Talent, iHR Awards and Social Enterprise. To build good-smart connections please visit the Pan European HR Network’s Groups on Linkedin (EMEA HR Directors, Pan European HR Network, Strategic Talent Management and HR Tech Europe). Do you have Facebook app on yoursmartphone? Simply like our Facebook page for key updates in our community!

About Marc Coleman

Marc is founder and Managing Director of the Pan European HR Network. He is responsible primarily for strategy, member networking, product development and business development.

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