Public Opinion Analysis - EU External Perceptions - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Public Opinion Analysis

"If the European Union is serious about taking a greater role in the world affairs it will require a public diplomacy capability to match.  … For the Union to prosper it must project a positive image of itself to opinion formers and to the ‘man in the street’ both within and beyond its borders." [6]

Even though foreign policy execution is usually a prerogative of national elites,[7] in the formation of the EU’s nascent public diplomacy, an understanding of external public opinion is important.[8]   Account for the international public opinion on the EU in this project is argued to be an overlooked, yet a valid contribution to the debate on the EU’s growing foreign actorness and its emergent public policy. Respectively, the project design includes national surveys of public opinion over the course of the project in each location, providing a unique longitudinal perspective to the public opinion on the EU outside the Union.

Depending on the level of computer literacy and Internet usage in each location, the sub-projects are using either of two methodological tools: CATI telephone or Internet panel surveys. Preferred sample is 1,000 respondents for each location (margin of error ±3.1%). Yet, with a view to budget optimization, sometimes samples include 400 people (margin of error ±4.9%).

The questionnaires include 23-25 questions (depending on the goals of the sub-project) and feature 5 or 6 open-ended questions. 8 questions deal with gauging information regarding the demographic profile of the respondents. 

The survey of the public opinion keeps up with the best practices of the Asia-Pacific previous research of the EU’s external perceptions, namely, its questionnaire design connects together media, elites and public components in order to endure a more comprehensive study of the EU’s external images and perceptions. 

Categories of Public Opinion Analysis

  • Comparative importance of the EU (in the present and in the future)
  • The state of relationship with the EU
  • EU issues and actions perceived to impact an external location
  • Spontaneous images of the EU
  • Personal and professional contacts with the EU
  • Sources of information on the EU
  • Perceived ways to enhance international presence and relevance of the EU

[6] Twigg as cited in P. de Gouiveia and H. Plumridge European Infopolitik: Developing EU Pubic Strategy (London: Foreign Policy Centre, 2005). VI.

[7] C. Moisy, ‘Myths of the global information village’ (1997) 107 Foreign Policy 

[8] P. de Gouiveia and H. Plumridge European Infopolitik: Developing EU Pubic Strategy (London: Foreign Policy Centre, 2005).

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