Eurotrack: Economic outlook gloomy across Western Europe as 2024 begins

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
January 09, 2024, 12:12 PM GMT+0

Seven country study finds that most think their national government is handling the cost of living crisis badly

Across Western Europe, 2023 was a year dominated by economic concerns, and that looks set to continue according to new YouGov Eurotrack data. Our survey of seven Western European nations – Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden – finds many are still struggling with the cost of living, are negative about their national government’s economic stewardship, and are pessimistic about the year ahead.

The economy got worse in 2023 according to Europeans, and many expect that trend to continue in 2024

Only 13-20% in each country expect the national economy to improve in 2024. For the most part, the expectation is that the economy will get worse, with 56% saying so in France, 52% in Spain, 49% in Germany and 40-44% in the UK, Italy and Sweden.

Denmark proves the exception, with only 27% expecting things to get worse. Instead, 47% believe the economic situation will stay about consistent – this opinion is shared by between a fifth and a third in the other nations.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, Danes are the most likely to have a positive opinion of their government’s handling of the economy. They are nevertheless divided, with 46% saying the government is managing the economy well versus 45% who think they are doing badly.

These are still enviable figures for the governing parties of the other nations surveyed. No more than 27% in any country have a positive view of their government’s economic competence, with this figure lowest in Britain at 19%. Between 63-74% say that their national government is handling the economy badly.

Many Europeans are still struggling with the cost of living

Europeans’ personal financial outlook is similarly negative – only 12-21% expect their household financial situation to improve over 2024.

French and German people in particular are the most likely to anticipate that their household finances will deteriorate in the next 12 months, at 45% and 42% respectively. That figure stands at 33-36% in Britain, Italy, Sweden and Spain, and only 26% in Denmark.

Many in each country are struggling to afford their household bills, but nowhere more so than Italy, where almost two thirds (65%) say they have at least occasionally struggled to afford their energy bills in the last three months. A majority of Italians have also found it difficult to afford fuel (57%), and a third (36%) have had trouble affording housing costs.

Here in Britain, 43% of people say they have struggled to afford their energy bills in the last three months, and 21% say the same of their rent or mortgage. Three in ten have also felt the pinch at the pumps (30%).

Given these findings, there is unsurprisingly widespread dissatisfaction with national governments’ handling of the cost of living – even in Denmark, where 58% say Mette Frederiksen’s coalition government has managed the issue poorly.

This figure increases substantially for the other nations surveyed, with 71-80% believing that the cost of living is being handled poorly in their own country.

See the full results for the economy here and the cost of living here

Photo: Getty

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