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News announcement29 May 2024Directorate-General for Environment3 min read

Europeans continue to feel directly affected by environmental issues and policy

A new Eurobarometer survey found that more than three-quarters of citizens believe the environment has a direct effect on their daily life.

What are the health costs of environmental pollution?
Photo by hramovnick, Shutterstock

Europeans continue to express high levels of concern about the environment, which they see as an issue affecting them personally, according to a new Eurobarometer survey on ‘Attitudes of Europeans towards the environment’ published today. 

More than three-quarters of Europeans (78%) say that environmental issues have a direct effect on their daily life and their health. And more than four in five respondents (84%) agree that EU environmental legislation is necessary for protecting the environment in their country. These results are nearly identical to those from the last survey conducted in 2019, highlighting the continued relevance of EU environmental policy. 

Citizens are also concerned about the costs of pollution. 92% of Europeans say that companies should pay for the costs of cleaning up their pollution, while 74% agree that public authorities should pay for the costs.

Concerns about water pollution and scarcity 

78% of respondents are in favour of proposing more EU measures to address water-related issues.

Pollution and overconsumption/wastage of water are seen as the two main national threats linked to water. In countries frequently affected by droughts, the number one threat in terms of water is droughts, as in Spain, Cyprus and Malta. Additionally, a majority of respondents considered that none of the most relevant sectors, such as industry, energy producers, tourism or agriculture, are currently doing enough to use water efficiently.

Support for circular economy and nature restoration 

Citizens consider promoting the circular economy as the most effective way of tackling environmental problems in 11 Member States, followed closely by restoring nature

Generally, there is a readiness towards more sustainable consumer behaviour with almost six in ten respondents willing to pay more for sustainable products that are easier to repair, recyclable and/or produced in an environmentally sustainable way.

As part of a more circular economy, citizens support reducing the amount of waste by sorting their waste for recycling correctly and using reusable packaging. In addition, in order to reduce waste, almost half of the respondents would primarily buy products that do not have more packaging than necessary and over 40% would primarily buy products in recycled packages. 

At the EU level as a whole, plastic and chemical waste are viewed as the most problematic, cited by 35% and 34% of respondents respectively.

Awareness of impacts of harmful chemicals 

More than four in five respondents (84%) are worried about the impact of harmful chemicals present in everyday products on their health, and the same proportion is worried about the impact of such chemicals on the environment. Since the 2019 survey, these concerns have remained almost steady.

The chemical safety of products is also taken into account by 72% of the Europeans interviewed when making purchases. 29% of Europeans say that they have heard about PFAS (also known as ‘forever chemicals’), while 71% have not. Then, once they have received more information about PFAS, 81% of respondents express concern about their potential impact on their health and 84% about the effects of such chemicals on the environment. Finally, EU environmental protection from hazardous chemicals is seen as too low, and should be increased, according to more than half of the respondents.

Speaking on the Eurobarometer survey, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:

“The results of this survey confirm the importance that green policies play in Europeans’ daily lives. I am encouraged to see this strong support for actions ranging from circular economy developments to nature restoration, at the heart of the European Green Deal. It is also clear that citizens think there is still more work to do to protect the environment, especially in areas such as chemical safety and water resilience.”


The survey is published during the annual EU Green Week conference “Towards a water resilient Europe” organised in Brussels on 29 and 30 May. At the conference, the Commission will launch a campaign to stimulate an EU-wide conversation about the increasing water-related challenges as well as the solutions to address them. 

The survey was carried out between 6 March and 8 April 2024 in the 27 EU Member States. 26,346 respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed face-to-face at home or via video link, in their mother tongue. 

This Special Eurobarometer survey is the follow-up of a Special Eurobarometer survey conducted in December 2019 on the same topic with some of the questions asked again to track evolution in public opinion.

For More Information 

Eurobarometer survey 

EU Green Week: "Towards a water resilient Europe” 

#WaterWiseEU: A campaign to stimulate an EU-wide conversation around water today and in the future. 


Publication date
29 May 2024
Directorate-General for Environment

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