Substantial drop in public support for enlargement in EU-15

A new Eurobarometer survey reveals a five per cent drop in EU-15
citizens’ support for enlargement. This development is most marked
in countries sharing a border with the new Member States.

EU citizens are losing trust in the benefits of enlargement,
shows a new Eurobarometer survey, the preliminary findings of which
were published on 7 May 2004. According to the figures, overall
support for enlargement is down in ten of the EU-15 countries by an
average of 5 per cent compared to the autumn 2003. Overall, only 42
per cent of citizens of the EU-15 now support enlargement.

It is particularly citizens of Member States sharing borders
with the newcomers who are more sceptical about enlargement than
they used to be. Support dropped most steeply in Germany from 38 to
28 per cent, but also in Austria (-7 per cent) and Italy (-5 per
cent). In other countries, citizens also fear the negative effects
of enlargement for their country, including the UK (-7 per cent),
the Netherlands (-6 per cent) and Luxemburg (-8 per cent).

"Politicians have not managed to explain correctly what the
enlargement means," said Hendrik Voos, Professor of European
affairs at Gent University," to the Belgian daily newspaper De
Morgen. "The fears of the population are unjustified. There are
more advantages than disadvantages in enlargement."

Only in three of the EU-15 countries, public opinion has
improved in favour of enlargement: in Finland (+3 per cent), Greece
(+1 per cent) and Ireland (+1 per cent).

The Eurobarometer survey was conducted by the European Opinion
Research Group (EEIG) and INRA Belgium in the EU-15 and by the
Gallup Organisation, Hungary in the new Member States and candidate
countries (see also

EURACTIV 4 May
2004
). The full results of this survey will be published in
July. 

 

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