European citizens believe health sector, small business, creating new jobs and digital should be focus of EU pandemic Recovery Funds

Aurel Constantin 04/02/2021 | 13:28

According to a new survey of 15,000 Europeans across 15 countries from Vodafone’s think tank, the Vodafone Institute, conducted by Kantar, 85% of Romanian citizens are aware of the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).

Vodafone, the largest mobile and fixed network operator in Europe, today releases new research revealing the European public’s attitudes towards the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).  Commissioned by its think tank, the Vodafone Institute, and conducted by Kantar, it reveals the European public’s attitudes towards the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), showing widespread support.

86% of the interviewed Romanian citizens think it is an effective way of helping European countries manage their recovery, the highest score among surveyed countries.

In fact, three out of four people believe digital public services, digital skills and broadband internet access are important aspects for the recovery of Europe. Romanian citizens share this belief at a significantly greater extent, with 86% of them considering digital public services important for the recovery, 82% – digital skills and 79% – broadband internet access.

Romanian citizens rank highest as compared to citizens in other countries the importance of digital public services, digital skills and business adopting digital technologies (80%).

Despite alignment between the European Commission and citizens, public remain sceptical on execution  

With 20% of the RRF fund being directed towards digitalisation, there is clear alignment between the priorities of the European Commission and European citizens according to this new research. However:

  • 32% of the Romanian citizens interviewed are sceptical as to whether all of the allocated money will reach the promised areas and instead be diverted into industry bailouts, furlough schemes and business competition schemes.
  • Citizens in Germany, Greece, Hungary and the UK are most sceptical.
  • 77% of the Romanian citizens think the Recovery Funds should be tied to certain conditions: 45% vote for strict conditions, while 32% favour more flexible ones. Evidently, the detail matters a great deal to citizens.

The vast majority of the interviewed Romanian citizens believe the scheme should most urgently support the health sector (96%), create opportunities for small businesses (94%) and generate new jobs (95%). Also, Romanians rank highest across Europe the urgency to support the digital education (90%), digital public services (82%) and broadband internet access (79%).

Murielle Lorilloux, CEO of Vodafone Romania, stated: “Romania ranks first among the other surveyed European countries in terms of citizens’ belief that EU funds are an effective way of helping the country manage its recovery, people acknowledging the role of the European Union in ensuring that Europe emerges from this crisis stronger, including through the EU recovery funds.

This research shows as well that Romanian citizens believe, with an overwhelming majority, that digital transformation must be at the heart of the recovery plan, ranking highest as compared to other countries the importance of digital public services, increasing digital skills and the adoption of technologies and of digital solutions by companies. What the research also revealed is that Romanians’ expectations for the digital education, digital public services and broadband internet access to be essential sectors for the recovery are significantly higher than the European average.

We have a historic opportunity to rebuild the economy and society as a whole stronger and better prepared for the future, accelerating the digital transformation in key sectors such as education, health, public services. The findings of this research call even more for close collaboration between government, companies, society in a joined effort meant to effectively respond to Romanian citizens’ expectations to use this unique opportunity for achieving in-depth transformation and build a digital and inclusive society. At Vodafone we remain committed in our role to keep society connected and to contribute to increasing society and the business environment resilience through digitalization.”

Inger Paus, Managing Director of the Vodafone Institute said: “The Digitising Europe Pulse survey underscores that citizens look to their national governments to solve the acute health and economic crisis and demonstrates the value they place on connectivity. The European Commission can play a key role in ensuring citizens voices are heard as the fund moves through assessment and allocation.”

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