This report studies the position, aspirations, expectations and fears of Europe’s middle classes concerning some of the key challenges that the EU is facing. It is based on an extensive online survey carried out in all 27 EU member states. It reveals an acute economic insecurity and fear of falling behind among EU citizens, especially in the lower social strata. It also shows that this crisis of citizens’ expectations and prospects is a threat to political stability, as it feeds into a dangerous crisis of legitimacy and trust in public institutions and political parties. Concerns may be most strongly expressed in the economic field, but also extend to the possible consequences of the war in Ukraine and the broader geopolitical realignments it entails. In particular, the combination of middle-class insecurity and relatively high levels of trust in Russia in parts of Southern and Eastern Europe should be highlighted. However, citizens also think that most challenges can be tackled and reversed through adequate political and policy action. In particular, the centre–right’s approaches to security, immigration and the economy retain great appeal among the European middle classes; there is a need to better connect with the lower middle classes though. Citizens also have a high estimation of the problem-solving capacity of civil-society actors and a relatively high level of trust in the EU. An inclusive narrative addressing European challenges on the basis of safety, stability, justice, freedom and cooperation could help to reassure Europe’s middle classes. Centre–right forces have a fundamental role to 1 play in this process.
ORBIS is powered by ESPAS, the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System, a unique inter-institutional project aimed at strengthening the EU's efforts in the crucial area of forward planning. ESPAS brings together the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Secretariat General of the Council of the European Union and the European External Action Service to strengthen the Union's collective administrative capacity to identify and analyse the key trends and challenges, and the resulting policy choices, which are likely to confront Europe and the wider world in the decades ahead.