The data is contained in a report by the Joint Research Center (JRC), the European Commission's internal scientific service, on loneliness and social isolation in Member States, which indicates that “one in four EU citizens reported feeling alone during the first months of the pandemic”, announced the entity.

Based on surveys carried out between April of last year and March of this year by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, in a total of more than 180,000 people over 18 years old, the community executive concludes that “the feelings of loneliness doubled across all age groups in the first few months of the pandemic.”

Furthermore, “there was a quadruple of loneliness among young people aged 18-35 compared to 2016”, adds the European Commission in the press release.

At the same time, “EU-wide media coverage of the phenomenon of loneliness also doubled during the pandemic, with awareness of the issue varying widely among Member States”, particularly in countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and Sweden.

In the report, seen by Lusa, the CCI of the European Commission observes that “loneliness increased by more than 15 percentage points in Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Sweden”.

Specifically, the percentage of respondents in Portugal who said they felt alone more than half the time in the two weeks prior to the interview rose from 6.6 percent in 2016 (pre-pandemic levels) to 21.9 percent in 2020 (during pandemic).

With a difference of 15.3 percentage points, Portugal was the sixth country in the EU with the highest increase, only behind Sweden (19.5 percent), France (17.8 percent), Poland (16.5 percent), Bulgaria (15.8 percent) and Germany (15.7 percent).

“In contrast, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Spain recorded an increase in loneliness of less than 10 percentage points during the same period of time”, adds the European Commission's JRC in the document.

As young people are one of the most affected populations, the European Commissioner for Youth, Mariya Gabriel, classifies this as a “challenge that is increasingly affecting” this population.