Western Balkans and EU - Part 40

posted by julia on 2007/08/18 10:48

[ Western Balkans and EU ]

The last Eurobarometer was published recently. According to the first results, 49% of EU citizens were in favor of further enlargement of the EU in April - May 2007 (compared to 46% a year ago). "On this matter, it is typical to see a difference in opinion between the newer Member States of the Union and those who have been Members for a longer period of time, with citizens of the former tending to be largely enthusiastic about further enlargement and feelings more mixed in citizens of the latter. This is again the case here, with average support running at 68% in the twelve new Member States and 43% in the former EU15 countries." (quote from Eurobarometer first results (pdf), p. 30 ff.)

EU citizens also seem more optimistic about the EU's future than last year (p. 42): "The majority of citizens see the EU of the future playing a strong role diplomatically, with
its own army and having a directly elected President." This is good news for the Western Balkans on their way towards the EU. And as you can see on the map below, acceptance of further EU enlargement is particularly high in countries surrounding the Western Balkans.

Here a concluding summary of the results:

This new wave of the Standard Eurobarometer shows that, over the last six months,
opinion has become considerably more favourable towards the EU and its institutions,
however one chooses to measure this.

This state of affairs is underpinned by the strong economic record of European economies
in recent months. This is clearly recognised by the public, with the percentage saying that
their national economy is in good health increasing to 52% (+6). This economic ‘feel-good
factor’ is very likely a factor in explaining the positive climate of opinion towards the
European Union.

In many cases, the usual Standard Eurobarometer indicators have hit levels that have not
been witnessed for many years.

* Support for EU membership now stands at 57% (+4 points since autumn 2006)
and is at its highest since 1994. The percentage perceiving that their country
has benefited from membership has risen to 59% (+5) and is the highest seen
since 1991.

* An absolute majority of 52% (+6) hold a positive image of the EU.

* Confidence levels for the European Commission (52%) and the European
Parliament (56%) have both increased by 4 percentage points.

* Exactly two-thirds (66%; +3) support a European constitution.

* The further enlargement of the EU is supported by 49% (+3).

The favourable opinion of the public is also shown by their expectations of the EU in future

* On the occasion of the EU’s 50 th anniversary, 69% of its citizens say they are
optimistic about its future.

* Absolute majorities believe that by the time the next 50 years have passed, the
EU will be a leading power in world diplomacy (61%), will have its own army
(56%) and will have a President who is directly elected (51%). When presented
with the statement that the EU will only be a secondary economic power, a
higher proportion are optimistic and disagree (49%) than are pessimistic and
agree (31%).

Map: Citizens of EU member states and EU candidate states in favour of future EU enlargement


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This weblog is a forum for discussion on the political and social processes linked to EU integration in the Western Balkans. We would also like to use this space to create a virtual network of researchers on this topic. You are most welcome to contribute to this weblog with comments, postings, links, or photos. Please use the "add comment" function at the end of each posting!
All photos by the Photo Arts Collective of Kosovo. First photo by Burim Myftiu (Swimming olympiade in Klina). Second photo by Mimoza. Third photo by Dashmir Izairi.
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