Only 44 percent of EU citizens in favour of enlargement according to Eurobarometer opinion poll released in April
Public support, both in the Member States and candidate countries, is key to the success of the enlargement process. However, support has been falling recently in both groups of countries. EU citizens are aware of the fact that making decisions will become more difficult in the enlarged Union (65 percent) and that their countries will receive less financial aid from the EU after enlargement (50 percent).
On the other hand, they also agree that the EU will become more important in the world as more countries join it (66 percent), and that more peace and security will be guaranteed in Europe (55 percent). EU citizens also express appreciation for the cultural enrichment of Europe via the enlargement process (61 percent).
The citizens of the EU's fifteen Member States are not very keen on the Union's enlargement, according to the final results of the Eurobarometer opinion poll, released in April. The poll, conducted in the EU members in autumn 2000, shows that only 44 percent of EU citizens support enlargement, while 35 percent are opposed to it. Only 26 percent EU citizens see enlargement as a priority.
Support for enlargement is widest in Greece (70 percent), Italy (59 percent) and Spain (58 percent), and lowest in the United Kingdom (31 percent), Austria (32 percent), France (35 percent) and Germany (36 percent).
As in previous Eurobarometer opinion polls, EU citizens show greatest support for Switzerland and Norway (both 70 percent). However, both countries rejected EU membership in referenda. Of the existing 13 candidate countries, Malta (48 percent support), Hungary (46 percent) and Poland (44 percent) are the most welcome. Least welcome are Turkey (30 percent) and Romania (33 percent).
For the first time, Eurobarometer also tested support for potential enlargement to the states in the territory of former Yugoslavia. Croatia enjoys 31 percent support, Yugoslavia 29 percent, Macedonia 27 percent and Bosnia-Herzegovina 27 percent.
The European Commission is launching a major information and communication
strategyto inform the public both in the current and future Member States of the realities of the EU's enlargement process.