New Member States’ citizens fear higher prices

A GfK survey has found that there is widespread fear of inflation after accession in the ten new countries, but also hopes of better job and education opportunities.

EU enlargement is supposed to be exporting stability. But on one level this does not hold true according to a survey on "Expectations of people in the EU accession states about life after 1 May 2004" published by the German pollster GfK on 20 February.

The survey, which collates data from 9,600 respondents, shows that eight in ten respondents in the accession countries fear that joining the EU will result in price increases. On average people expect prices to go up by 30 per cent. In Cyprus and Slovakia this increase is expected to be over 40 per cent.

Other areas, however, give rise to more optimistic expectations. Three in four respondents believe that EU membership promises good opportunities in terms of work and training in other EU Member States. Most optimistic of all are Lithuanians, 85 per cent of whom see positive future opportunities.

The group that rates EU membership most positively is that of students. Almost 90 per cent think that, thanks to their country joining the EU, they will have the opportunity to study in another Member State. And there certainly will be more opportunities once their respective countries join the EU as their citizens will then be eligible to take part in EU education programmes such as Erasmus, Leonardo, Lingua and Minerva.

Almost a third of respondents expect that open borders, free trade and the opportunity of cross-border employment will result in a better standard of living.



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