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The report examines how citizens’ trust in institutions – including national governments, the EU, science and the media – evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The role of the media is analysed, in particular the relationship between the use of social media and trust and the impact of misinformation (incorrect or misleading information) and disinformation (deliberately deceptive information) during the crisis period. Based on an extensive literature review, the report describes the consequences of COVID-19 policy measures, with a focus on citizens’ trust in their national institutions and in the EU. The report outlines the dynamics of trust and discontent in the context of the pandemic, including the influence of the vaccination roll-out.

Key findings

During the pandemic, improvements in trust levels, in particular with national institutions, resulted in a higher rate of satisfaction with government policy responses to COVID-19, demonstrating the critical role trust plays in managing a crisis effectively. An understanding of the importance of high-trust societies and the impact of trust is crucial for tackling future crises.

The economic concerns of citizens are crucial to building a high-trust society. A fair and inclusive recovery from the pandemic, with equal access to education and training, employment, affordable housing and social security, particularly in the context of the just transition framework where no person or region is left behind, are essential to these efforts.

Findings confirm that individuals with high levels of trust are most likely to participate in immunisation campaigns, highlighting that in order to respond to a health crisis effectively, societies require high-trust populations. Trust in institutions plays a strong role in this relationship.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals with low levels of trust in institutions, such as governments, science and medical institutions, were linked to low rates of vaccination uptake. Given that trust in the health system and the pharmaceutical industry is particularly pertinent in this context, it is critical that policymakers engage in clear and continuous communication about vaccines and their side-effects.

Findings reveal that respondents favouring social media as their main news source tended to have lower institutional trust and lower satisfaction with their governments’ measures to contain COVID-19 than those favouring traditional media. Tackling incorrect or misleading information as well as rebutting deliberately deceptive information on social media platforms must therefore be a priority for both the EU and Member States.

The report contains the following lists of tables and figures

List of tables

  • Table 1: Definitions of digitisation technologies
  • Table 2: Overview of the digitisation case studies
  • Table 3: Most relevant sectors for technology uptake and use cases
  • Table 4: Drivers of and barriers to the adoption of digitisation technologies
  • Table 5: Overview of approaches to digitisation across the establishments investigated
  • Table 6: Areas of work organisation most impacted by the use of digitisation technologies
  • Table 7: Elements of job quality impacted by the use of digitisation technologies
  • Table 8: Specific impacts of digitisation technologies on skills and discretion

List of figures

  • Figure 1: Analytical model for digital technologies
  • Figure 2: Adoption by enterprises of IoT and 3D printing by size and sector, EU27, 2020 (%)
  • Figure 3: Advanced technology use by enterprises (with at least 10 employees) by country, EU27, 2020 (%)
  • Figure 4: Distribution of IoT clusters in Europe, 2019
  • Figure 5: Key elements for successful technology implementation
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