Estonians value freedom of speech more than European average

President Kersti Kaljulaid in the Riigikogu, wearing a sweatshirt that says
President Kersti Kaljulaid in the Riigikogu, wearing a sweatshirt that says "Speech is Free," as members of Jüri Ratas' second government take their oaths of office. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Estonians, unlike most Europeans, consider protecting freedom of speech one of the main tasks of the European Parliament, results from a new Eurobarometer study shows.

The study titled "Parlemeter 2020: A Glimpse of Certainty in Uncertain Times" was undertaken in November and December 2020 and involved residents across the European Union. The surveys were answered online.

Finns, Estonians and the Dutch believe the main task of the European Parliament is to protect freedom of speech, the study reported. This is different to other European Union residents who think the body's main task is to protect human rights.

Freedom of speech as a priority was supported by 59 percent of respondents in the Netherlands, 54 percent in Estonia 54 and 53 percent in Finland 53. The European Union's average was 35 percent.

52 percent of Estonians think it is important that the European Parliament improves solidarity and cooperation between the member states and 49 percent said it is important to protect human rights around the world.

The biggest differences between the EU and Estonia, were seen on immigration politics, agriculture and food industry and minority rights.

Overall, the report found that the coronavirus pandemic strengthened citizens' beliefs that the European Union is the right place to develop effective solutions to tackle COVID-19 and its effects.

At the end of 2020, more respondents saw things on the right path at EU level in comparison with their own country and 72 percent of respondents believe the EU Recovery Plan would allow their country's economy to recover more rapidly from the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

61 percent of Estonians believe the European Parliament is on the right track, the third highest score after Ireland and Lithuania and 64 percent of Estonians are satisfied with how democracy works in the European Union. However, 81 percent of Estonians polled said they did not think their voices were heard in the EU decision-making process, the highest score.



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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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