Quality of life in European cities


The recently published results of a 2012 Eurobarometer survey give a snapshot of how Europe's citizens view their cities

The European Commission released the results of the 2012 edition of the three-yearly Eurobarometer survey on ‘Perception of quality of life in European cities’ on 8 October 2013. The results are a snapshot of how citizens of the 79 responding cities in all EU member states, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, see their cities. A total of 41,000 inhabitants rated their satisfaction with a range of aspects that contribute to urban life, from quality of green spaces to provision of public services.

The survey revealed that, like the last survey in 2009, healthcare, employment, education and training remain citizens’ biggest concerns. Many feel that finding a job in European cities is hard; in only nine cities did a majority of citizens report it easy to find employment. In general this job insecurity has increased significantly since 2009, although in some cities the outlook has improved.

Many citizens of European capitals reported dissatisfaction with schools and educational institutes, although some EUROCITIES members bucked that trend. In Ljubljana, for example, 87% of citizens claimed they were satisfied with this aspect, ranking it top among the European capitals.

On a positive note, many respondents felt that the presence of foreigners is good for the city, and that they are well integrated. Only citizens in five of the cities surveyed disagreed with this point.

The survey found that high satisfaction with public spaces, green areas, cleanliness and safety are closely linked with the overall satisfaction felt by people about their cities. In Copenhagen for example, 91% of respondents reported being completely satisfied with the green areas provided. The city’s overall satisfaction score reflected this at 97%.

The highest scoring EUROCITIES member in terms of overall satisfaction was Hamburg, which came second on the list after the Danish city of Aalborg.

It is also important to note that many of the respondents felt that their cities are doing more to fight climate change compared to 2009. This statement is particularly relevant to capital cities.

Johannes Hahn, European commissioner for regional policy reflected on the many different elements that contribute to citizens’ wellbeing and said that he hoped “the results will inspire and guide policy makers, urban planners and civil society to address urban problems through a more holistic and integrated manner”. EU regional and urban policy is giving greater support to cities in the period 2014-2020. The allocation of funding through the European Regional Development Fund for investment in cities is likely to grow, while at least 5% of funding is to be set aside by member states for investment integrated urban actions.

A summary of the survey results and the full analysis are available at the links below.

Click here for the summary of results in a European Commission press release.

Click here for the full survey.