Almost no one in Europe escapes this question: how far will inflation take us? According to the latest Eurobarometer, which regularly takes the pulse of the Old Continent, 93% of Europeans are now worried about the rising cost of living (1). Even greater anxiety in some countries, where even higher results are recorded: 100% in Greece, 99% in Cyprus, and 98% in Italy and Portugal.
This is linked to another concern: 82% of Europeans fear poverty and social decline. “Now is the time for us to deliver on our promises, get our bills under control, bring down inflation and help our economies grow. We must protect the most vulnerable in our societies,” said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.
Some countries find more reason to worry than others. “We observe that it is especially in the countries affected by the 2008 crisis that the anxiety of impoverishment is strong, it is a traumatic memory that we do not find in the north of Europe, even if inflation is also high there”, comments Emmanuel Rivière, international director of political studies at Kantar.
Like the actual or felt temperatures in meteorology, it is also necessary to differentiate, on the one hand, the real difficulties encountered by the populations and, on the other, the legitimate anxieties of impoverishment generated by the crisis. A question asked about the ability to pay bills makes the distinction. Logically, given the economic context, the risk of non-payment is increasing everywhere: 39% of Europeans encountered difficulties in November, ie 6 points more in the space of six months. France, it is right in the middle, which hides huge disparities. In Italy, Portugal or Bulgaria, only 34% of respondents say they have the means to pay their bills, while in Denmark or Sweden 91% are able to pay the bill.
“There are countries where we say that things are still going well, but where the population is very worried about the future, like Germany”, continues Emmanuel Rivière. Across the Rhine, the economic locomotive of Europe records the strongest increases in concern, despite less difficulty in paying bills (27%). 49% of Germans think that their situation will be worse in one year, a record increase of +32% in one year.
This is more than the French, who are still 45% not to place 2023 under the best auspices (+ 18% in one year). Emmanuel Rivière invites us to take these concerns seriously, regardless of their roots in reality. “Unlike the Covid crisis, the population does not yet see the exit point. The drop in morale this engenders could lead to spending restrictions in countries that have a significant training force for the rest of Europe. »
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