EU Public Opinion and Participation Interest Section

Web sites and Web-based resources

Eurobarometer is the most widely used source of data on public opinion in the European Union. Produced by the European Commission's DG for Education and Culture, the Public Opinion Analysis Web site includes many current downloadable reports (in PDF format) with data as recent as the current month. Qualitative and quantitative data, gathered with a variety of instruments, are provided on topics ranging from attitudes about the euro to attitudes in the candidate countries, and many other topics as well.

  • European Values Survey The European Values Study was initiated by the European Value Systems Study Group (EVSSG) in the late 1970s, at that time an informal grouping of academics. Now, it is carried on in the setting of a foundation, using the (abbreviated) name of the group: European Values Study (EVS).

    The EVSSG researchers aimed at exploring the moral and social values underlying European social and political institutions and governing conduct. At the time of the first survey, the first elections for the European Parliament were approaching, a bishops conference was organized and questions were raised such as:

                • Do Europeans share common values? 
                • Are values changing in Europe and, if so, in what directions? 
                • Do Christian values continue to permeate European life and culture? 
                • Is a coherent alternative meaning system replacing that of Christianity? 
                • What are the implications for European unity? 

    In order to answer these questions, a survey was planned and in 1981 interviews were conducted in ten European countries (also including Northern Ireland which was investigated separately from Great Britain). The research project aroused interest in North and South America, the Middle and Far East, Australia, and South Africa where affiliated groups were set up to administer the same questionnaire. Agreements were negotiated with regard to the exchange of data for intercontinental and inter-cultural comparisons. As a result a unique data set became available, covering 26 nations.

    To explore the dynamics of values changes, a second wave of surveys was launched in 1990 in all European countries, including Switzerland, Austria and countries in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the US and Canada.

    About ten years later (1999), the third EVS wave was conducted in almost all European countries, with the exception of Norway, Switzerland and some of the former Yugoslavian countries. This allowed to investigating the causes and consequences of the dynamics of value change. In 2008, the fourth wave of the European Values Study took place. The fieldwork covers no less than 47 European countries/regions, from Iceland to Azerbaijan and from Portugal to Norway.
  • World Values Survey The World Values Survey ( is a global network of social scientists studying changing values and their impact on social and political life, led by an international team of scholars, with the WVS association and secretariat headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. 

    The survey, which started in 1981, seeks to use the most  rigorous, high-quality research designs in each country. The WVS consists of nationally representative surveys conducted in almost 100 countries which contain almost 90 percent of the world’s population, using a common questionnaire. The WVS is the largest non-commercial, cross-national, time series investigation of human beliefs and values ever executed, currently including interviews with almost 400,000 respondents. Moreover the WVS is the only academic study covering the full range of global variations, from very poor to very rich countries, in all of the world’s major cultural zones.

    The WVS seeks to help scientists and policy makers understand changes in the beliefs, values and motivations of people throughout the world. Thousands of political scientists, sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists and economists have used these data to analyze such topics as economic development, democratization, religion, gender equality, social capital, and subjective well-being. These data have also been widely used by government officials, journalists and students, and groups at the World Bank have analyzed the linkages between cultural factors and economic development. 
  • The German Social Science Infrastructure Service has a deeply developed set of Web pages on the Eurobarometer, including guides, trends, special topics, news, links, how to order data and other reports, and much more. Based at key German universities, they are the central archive for Eurobarometer data and supporting materials. Most of the site is available in English. Start here: GESIS.
  • European Social Survey The European Social Survey (ESS) is an academically driven cross-national survey that has been conducted every two years across Europe since 2001. The survey measures the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of diverse populations in more than thirty nations. The main aims of the ESS are:
    • to chart stability and change in social structure, conditions and attitudes in Europe and to interpret how Europe’s social, political and moral fabric is changing
      to achieve and spread higher standards of rigour in cross-national research in the social sciences, including for example, questionnaire design and pre-testing, sampling, data collection, reduction of bias and the reliability of questions
    • to introduce soundly-based indicators of national progress, based on citizens’ perceptions and judgements of key aspects of their societies
    • to undertake and facilitate the training of European social researchers in comparative quantitative measurement and analysis
    • to improve the visibility and outreach of data on social change among academics, policy makers and the wider public.

The ESS data is available free of charge for non-commercial use and can be downloaded from their webiste after a short registration.

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