eupinions echo 22 Jul, 2020

Italians deeply worried about financial security, even after the pandemic

Worries in Italy are shifting from COVID-19 to the economy as the consequences of recession become more and more severe.

eupinions echo Italians deeply worried about financial security, even after the pandemic

Every week, surveys from all across the EU tell us what Europeans are thinking, feeling and talking about. In our new segment, eupinions echo, we collect these voices and play them back to you. Each week, we highlight one survey of particular interest in a short blogpost and share daily new survey results via our website and our twitter channel.


Italy has been one of the countries hit earliest and hardest by COVID-19. But while strict lockdown regulations were eventually successful in reducing new infection numbers to a minimum, Italy's worries are far from over as the same rules and regulations that helped save the country, also have had a devastating effect on the its economy and its citizens' financial security. Two new national surveys have now tried to gauge the extend of these worries.

The first survey, which was conducted by the Bank of Italy showed that about half of all Italians (51%) reported that their household income had shrunk over the past two months of the pandemic, while a similar share of respondents (47%) believed that their household income would decrease further over the next 12 months, even after a possible end to the pandemic. Within that 12-month time frame 7% of Italians feared that their income would decrease by over 50% compared to their income now. In addition, more than a third of Italians (38%) stated that they did not have enough liquid resources to cover essential household expenses such as food and rent for more than three months and more than half of those interviewed believe that even when the epidemic is over, they will spend less on travel, holidays, restaurants, cinema and theatres than they did before the crisis.

A second survey, conducted by Censis and Assogestioni, further underlines these grim results. A total of two thirds of all Italians (68%) are generally worried about their financial situation, a share even larger among young Italians (72%). When asked which mood or feeling was most dominant for Italians nowadays, the answer given by far most often was "uncertainty" with half of all Italians (50%) indicating this as their dominant mood.

Our very own eupinions trend data appears to confirm these findings. Almost half of all Italians (45%) consistently state that their personal economic situation has worsened over the last two years. This is the largest share out of all six individually polled member states and much higher than the EU27 average which currently sits at 30%.

Still, it would be wrong to assume that Italian sentiments were generally pessimistic in these trying times. In our blogpost from two weeks ago we reported that even though Italians were highly critical of the EU's role in coordinating help and financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, they still fundamentally view the concept of a European Union in a positive light. As Catherine de Vries writes in her recent Politico piece, the...


"...Italian public opinion is wary of the EU not because Italians think there is too much integration, but because they think there has been too little. They feel they have been abandoned by the EU, and Conte needs to deliver on a deal that moves significantly beyond the current status quo."


Our most recent eupinions trends data, taken after the peak of Italy's lockdown, finds that a total of 70% of Italians wishes for more political and economic integration across Europe and that the share of Italians who think that the European Union in general is moving in the right direction increased to an all time high from 24% in March 2020 to 35% in June.

Having said that, it would be equally wrong to underestimate several warning signs as they become visible in Italian public opinion towards the EU. Two developments stick out. First, the proportion of Italians who would vote to leave the EU if there was a referendum went up from 28% in March 2020 to an astonishing 47% in June 2020.

Secondly, almost 1 in 6 Italians (15%) believe that the EU won’t exist in ten years from now, a belief just 9% of Italians held just three months earlier.

It is thus safe to say that the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic fallout that now materializes impacts Italian public opinion towards the EU. It will be interesting to see how the recently agreed upon EU recovery fund will be received in Italy. For one thing can be taken for granted: proponents of an ‘Italexit’, such as the group forming around Ex-Five Star Movement Senator Gianluigi Paragone, are lurking, trying to profit from any (lack of) agreement between European member states.



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About the surveys: The survey by the Bank of Italy was conducted by Doxa, Ipsos and GfK. In total 3,079 Italians were questioned. For the Censis survey, a representative sample of 1,000 Italians was interviewed.