THE BLOG
12/02/2016 15:00 GMT | Updated 12/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Continental Shift: What Europe Thinks (And Feels)

Looking at things through a British lens, it certainly feels like we've seen a lot of coverage about what's happening in Europe over the last few months. But, aside from the tragedies in Paris, much of this has centred on the migrant crisis and its impact: Calais, Dresden, Cologne, Copenhagen, Lesbos...

Back home of course we will not be short of heated discussions about "Europe" this year, but here it is Britain's future role (or not) in the European Union which will dominate.

What can we learn more generally about the mood of Europe's people at the start of 2016? It may be the world's smallest continent. But it is home to 750 million people, in more than 50 countries.

Making cross-national generalisations can be fun; but we also need to be cautious and take a good look at the evidence first.

We therefore decided to trawl the Ipsos archive to find out more about what we've learned over the last 12 months. Our Europe Briefing does not pretend to be comprehensive. But we hope it paints a picture of how the continent is feeling in early 2016 - its people's hopes and fears, their experiences at work, and how they spend their free time.

Here are 10 themes which we found interesting:

  1. Staying healthy: a Number 1 concern across every country
  2. The British exception: people in the UK are the only ones in Europe to put IT security and cyber crime at the top of their "worry list"
  3. Fear of crime: The French and Germans are more worried about being mugged or robbed than anyone else in Europe
  4. Risky business: most people say they personally take risks as they go about their lives. On the other hand some 60% of Europeans say risk is something "best avoided", and this rises to 70% in France and 75% in Spain
  5. The sharing economy: 51% say they are renting, swapping or buying things second hand "more often" than they were a few years ago - and 73% of Europeans say these behaviours are here to stay
  6. Economic necessity: People may be sharing more, but they say this is more the result of feeling financially squeezed as opposed to being a brilliant manifestation of how new technologies can change our lives
  7. Above the fray: Europe's most affluent consumers are increasingly international in their outlook. Some 78% understand English, and 71% watch international TV. The time they spend on line has more than doubled since 2009
  8. Work matters: Two in three employees say they feel "motivated" by the company they work for. This doesn't necessarily mean people are loving their time at work. This appears to be the case for many Dutch employees, 63% of whom "often" feel happy at work. But among Czech and Polish workers this figure tumbles to 27% and 22% respectively
  9. The beautiful south: Holiday budgets may be under pressure, particularly in France, Spain and Italy. But this doesn't stop people heading for the beach - this is the holiday location for 62% of Europe's summer holidaymakers
  10. Disappointing union: Just 27% of Europeans say the EU is "on the right track". And it isn't the British who are the gloomiest: that distinction goes to Italy (16%) and France (15%).

Whatever its faults, however, the prevailing mood is to stick with the devil you know: just 17% want to leave the EU altogether. Something that will be tested in the ballot boxes of the UK, perhaps as early as June 23rd this year...