Two thirds of Eastern Europeans support enlargement

The first Eurobarometer survey of public opinion in the 13 candidate countries shows that the majority of candidate countries’ citizens consider membership of the EU as natural, and expect it to help their national economy.

Key findings:

  • 65 percent say they would support their country’s membership of the EU in a referendum, whilst 18 percent would vote against;
  • 47 percent believe they would personally benefit from EU accession;
  • 62 percent believe that their nation’s voice will be heard more in Europe once they join the EU;
  • 65 percent believe that membership in the EU is natural, and historically and geographically justified;
  • 69 percent feel that that membership will help their national economy and the EU will be more important in the world if it includes more countries;
  • 52 percent see themselves as both European and national;
  • 37 percent believe their personal situation will improve in the course of the next 5 years, 26 percent feel it will stay the same, and 26 percent believe it will get worse;
  • 52 percent have a positive image of the EU (this is 10 percent higher compared to the Eurobarometer results in the current Member States);
  • 69 percent say that the EU will create a better future for young people, but only 28 percent of young people living in the Member States share this opinion;
  • 55 percent believe that EU membership will create jobs;
  • 49 percent see the EU as the guarantee of a lasting peace in Europe;
  • 20 percent fear that the EU is a threat to cultural diversity in Europe;
  • 20 percent say that the EU is very bureaucratic, a waste of time and money;
  • 13 percent consider the EU as a utopian idea;
  • 34 percent consider the EU a European government;
  • 22 percent feel they know quite a lot about the EU;
  • 86% percent regard English as one of the two most useful languages to speak, German is favoured by 58% percent, and French by 17 percent.

 

Positions

Commenting on the results, Enlargement Commissioner Günther Verheugen stated that the report confirms "the citizens of the candidate countries, in their overwhelming majority, are looking forward to their country joining the EU and to enjoying the benefits membership can bring to their daily lives". He announced that the Commission will step up its efforts, via its communication strategy on enlargement, to better inform both the citizens in the candidate countries and the Member States, as enlargement negotiations enter the final phase.

 

Background

Eurobarometer is the only public opinion survey carried out regularly in all 15 EU Member States. It has existed since 1973. Two major reports are published annually - a Spring survey and an Autumn survey. The full report covers over a hundred questions.

The first Eurobarometer opinion survey was conducted in October 2001 among more than 12,000 citizens in the 13 candidate countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey). Around 50 different questions were asked, many of them directly comparable with the standard Eurobarometer for the current Member States. Some initial results of this survey were published in December 2001.

 

Timeline

The candidate countries Eurobarometer will be carried out twice a year until these countries join the EU. Afterwards, the new Member States will participate in the EU Eurobarometer surveys.

 

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