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Eurobarometer is a series of surveys regularly performed on behalf of the European Commission since 1973. It produces reports of public opinion of certain issues relating to the European Union across the member states. The Eurobarometer results are published by the Public Opinion Analysis Sector [http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/index_en.htm] of the European Commission - Directorate General Communication.
The Eurobarometer program was initially launched and managed by Jacques-René Rabier, with the political support of both the European Parliament and Commission. His task was pursued by Karlheinz Reif, Anna Melich, Rubén Mohedano-Brèthes, Thomas Christensen and Renaud Soufflot de Magny.
Eurobarometer was originally conceived as a way to track and analyse public opinion in all European Member States (later, in candidate and third countries as well) and to improve the information and communication policy of European decision-makers.
It is a unique tool for discerning public opinions and trends on a wide variety of issues relating to the EU. Its database since 1973 is one of the largest in the world.
Forerunners of Eurobarometer
In 1970 and 1971 the European Commission conducted surveys in the six member countries (at that time) of the European Community (Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands). These European Communities Studies assessed public opinion on individual national priorities as well as on integrated European functions and organizations, including the Common Market (European Economic Community).
In 1972-1973, national referendums were held regarding the enlargement of the European Community to include Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Regular semi-annual polls of member nations began in September 1973 now including nine countries, with the survey series first being given the name Eurobarometer in 1974. The fieldwork for Euro-Barometer 1 was conducted in April-May of that year, with results published in July.
Already in 1962 and under the header "Attitudes towards Europe" a first international survey on attitudes towards European unification was carried out by GALLUP International on request of the Press- and Information Service of the European Communities (EEC) in Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Standard Eurobarometer survey
The Standard Eurobarometer survey series is a cross-national longitudinal study, designed to compare and gauge trends within member states of the European Union (formerly European Communities).
The Standard Eurobarometer survey is carried out each autumn and spring. Although the range of questions has been expanded over the years, the programme aims to keep most of the survey constant, so that data is comparable over time. Starting with Eurobarometer 34 (1990) separate supplementary surveys on special topics have been conducted under almost each Eurobarometer number. Since autumn 2004 the Standard Eurobarometer is carried out by TNS Opinion and Social [http://text.tns-global.com/market-sectors/polling-and-social.htm].
Special irregularly repeated modules investigate topics such as agriculture, biotechnology, energy, environment, gender roles, family, youth, elderly, health related issues, immigration, poverty, regional identity, science and technology, working conditions, consumer behaviour, urban traffic etc. in a European perspective. In the case of some supplementary studies, special youth and elderly samples have been drawn. The youth supplement to the standard Eurobarometer occurs irregularly, and has so far taken place in 1982, 1987, 1990, and 1997.
The Flash Eurobarometer were introduced by the European Commission in the 1990s. It consists of interviews, conducted by telephone, which are undertaken on an ad hoc basis. A Flash EB survey can be carried out at the request of either the Commission or any other EU institution. The main advantage of the Flash EB, as opposed to a normal Eurobarometer survey, is that it is a lot faster, providing results almost instantaneously. In addition, it is more suitable to the targeting of specific groups within the population of the EU, to find out their opinions on the topic in question. An example would be one conducted in April 2004 about the introduction of the Euro in the new EU member states [http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/flash165b_en.pdf]. Until 2005 the Flash Eurobarometer have been carried out by EOS Gallup Europe [http://www.eosgallupeurope.com/]. In 2006 the contract has been awarded to The Gallup Organization Europe (Gallup Europe)[http://www.gallup-europe.be].
Central and Eastern Eurobarometer
The Central and Eastern Eurobarometer series was carried out on behalf of the European Commission between 1990 and 1997. Once a year the CEEB surveys have been monitoring economic and political changes, and attitudes towards Europe and the European Union in up to 20 countries of the region.
Candidate countries Eurobarometer
In October 2001, the European Commission launched a series of surveys in the 13 countries that were applying for European Union membership under the heading Candidate Eurobarometer (initially named Applicant Countries Eurobarometer or AC-EB). The CC-EB surveys were carried out by Gallup Hungary (http://www.gallup.hu/europa.htm) in Bulgaria, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Turkey. After the EU enlargements in 2004 and 2007, the CC-EB countries are included in the Standard Eurobarometer, intermittently still comprising the remaining candidates, Turkey, and Croatia, as well as the Turkish Cypriot community (Northern Cyprus). Candidate Countries Eurobarometer gathered information from the societies which were going to become members of the EU in a way that is comparable with the Standard Eurobarometer. In 2003, the Candidate Countries Eurobarometer included a supplement on Youth in New Europe, which provided an interesting basis for comparison with the Eurobarometer Reports on Young People.