More than half of Serbia’s citizens want their country to strengthen economic ties with China and Russia rather than with countries in the region, while 84 percent of respondents said the gap between rich and poor is growing, according to the latest edition of the Balkan Barometer survey conducted by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).
The Balkan Barometer is an annual public opinion survey conducted by the RCC, collecting and analysing data collected from citizens and companies of the Western Balkans on thematic areas such as employment, trade, investment, corruption.
This year, 6,000 citizens and 1,200 companies from six Western Balkan countries were involved in the survey.
The latest study shows the most significant trust in law in the region is in Serbia: 52 percent of citizens believe that the rules are applied effectively. In comparison, 38 percent believe that the law is the same for everyone, the study shows.
Regional cooperation has more support, 77 percent, and most respondents believe it can improve their countries’ political, economic and security situation.
Unemployment with 49 per cent and economic development with 46 per cent, remain two critical problems in the region. In addition, citizens in the area are most concerned about corruption and „brain drain”, 26 and 13 percent, respectively.
More citizens want EU membership, 62 percent compared to 59 percent in 2020, but only a quarter of respondents are optimistic that the region’s integration will happen by 2025.
Fewer people want to leave the region, 37 percent compared to 43 percent last year, and 53 percent say they have no plans to work abroad soon.
Compared to 2019, more people use the Internet, 39 percent for two or three hours daily.
Companies in the Western Balkans use the Internet for communication, 77 percent, marketing, 54 percent, searching for innovative ideas, trends and partners,34 percent.
Presenting the latest results in Tirana, Majlinda Bregu, RCC Secretary-General, said that 71 percent of Western Balkans citizens trusted institutions, and 62 percent believed that the media were not independent.
They support employment measures for people with disabilities, 92 percent, and Roma, 81 percent.
Three-quarters of the respondents are worried about climate change and pollution, and 62 percent are willing to pay more for „eco products”.
Regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, 43 percent of citizens fear job loss, 46 percent say they have lower salaries, and 39 percent believe their governments do not do enough to protect people from job loss during a pandemic.