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Supporting policy with scientific evidence

We mobilise people and resources to create, curate, make sense of and use knowledge to inform policymaking across Europe.

Projects and activities | Last updated: 09 Sep 2022

Europeans' Interest in EC Priorities

The project aims to offer insights to policy makers into the Europeans’ interests in the six European Commission’s priorities, getting information from online search data.


The project aims to offer insights to policy makers into Europeans' interest in the six European Commission’s priorities. To overcome the lack of EU-wide data on several topics, online searches are used to proxy Europeans’ interest in selected subjects related to the Commission's priorities. Each subject is defined as a composite indicator, describing multiple related phenomena and gathering different online search queries. 

The analysis reports the trends over time and across countries (and regions) of the composite indicators. Further, it shows how the indicators can be used to perform causal analysis to assess shifts in the relative volume of web searches following changes in national and regional policies.


The European Green Deal

The European Green Deal is the most ambitious and challenging goal set by the European Commission. Aiming to make the European Union, the world’s second-largest economy, climate-neutral by 2050, the European Green Deal will transform EU societies and industries.

To support the European Commission in this effort, the JRC used web searches to create two sets of indicators to monitor Europeans’ interest in the subjects related to the Green Deal. The first set of indicators captures online search data related to citizens’ green behaviour in the context of the European Green Deal, such as their searches related to mobility, energy, waste and nutrition. The second set of indicators captures online search data on citizens’ green awareness, such as those about pollution, clean energy, ecosystems and climate.


Selected highlights from the report:

  • Over the last five years, interest in green mobility has been slowly but steadily increasing. This is particularly true for individual and public transport. In 2020, the trend was heavily affected by the sanitary crisis. Google searches for public transport and shared mobility dramatically decreased without recovering to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Searches related to climate change peaked towards the end of 2016. This peak comes shortly after the entry into force of the Paris agreement. Another peak comes during the Global Week of Climate Action and shortly after Greta Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23rd 2019.
  • The indicators can be used to obtain causal insights, both at the regional and national level. For example, searches for low-emission vehicles in Italy surged following the implementation, by regional authorities, of economic incentives to replace old and high-emission cars. Searches for public transport instead dropped during the pandemic, not only as a result of containment measures but also because of self-imposed cautionary measures.

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A Europe Fit for the Digital Age

Between February 2020 and March 2021, the European Commission developed two flagship policy documents: the Communication Shaping Europe’s digital future and the Communication 2030 Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade, both aimed at fast-forwarding the digitalisation of the European Union and its Member States, and constituting the backbone of the European Commission’s priority ‘A Europe fit for the digital age’.

In this report the JRC tries to explore Europeans’ interest around selected policy areas composing the digital priority, namely: the availability and quality of digital infrastructure; the interest to develop digital skills to work, learn and to be context-aware in an increasingly digital world; and the changes in the way in which Europeans enrich themselves and relax using the digital medium for entertainment purposes. 


Selected highlight from the report: 

  • After some years of declining interest, searches for topics related to internet connectivity showed a sharp increase at the onset of the pandemic. This presumably indicates an increased need to seek information on the availability and quality of connectivity, as COVID-19-related restrictions prompted an increasing number of work and leisure activities to move online. 
  • Despite an ongoing downwards trend, interest in computers recorded three peaks in February, April and November 2020. In the same periods, interest in laptops and tablets also peaked in all European countries. With the second wave of pandemic in November 2020, Europeans’ interest in digital equipment increased, possibly with an aim to get hold of the devices needed to work and study from home.
  • In April 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, the average interest throughout European countries in lifelong learning platforms doubled compared with 2019.

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