Europeans Are More Favourable to Ukraine’s Accession to EU than to Other Candidates

Tuesday, 12 December 2023

A poll shows that Europeans are generally open to the idea of Ukraine joining the EU but are, at best, lukewarm about a possible enlargement of the EU by including Georgia and countries in the Western Balkans.

The Guardian, citing a survey in six EU member states conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), writes that significant support for the candidacy of Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, Moldova and Montenegro, but also deep concerns about economic and security issues.

At the same time, there is widespread opposition to the possible accession of Türkiye in particular, as well as a markedly cool reaction to the prospect of Albania, Bosnia, Georgia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia joining the union.

The poll showed that Denmark (50%) and Poland (47%) have the highest support for Ukraine's accession to the EU, while opinions are divided in Romania (32% in favour, 29% against), Germany (37% in favour, 39% against) and France (29% in favour, 35% against). In Austria, 52% were against.

At the same time, 45% of respondents are concerned that Ukraine's accession will have a negative impact on EU security, compared to 25% who believe it will strengthen it. 

Many Europeans do not see any economic benefits from Ukraine's membership. While 43% of respondents in Poland and 37 % in Romania see it as having a positive impact on the EU economy, 54% in Denmark and 46% in Austria foresee the opposite. 

There are also concerns about the impact of enlargement on the EU's political power in the world. Poland and Denmark are the most optimistic in this regard: 43% and 35% of citizens believe that Ukraine's accession to the EU will have a positive impact.

In Austria (42%) and Germany (32%), however, the most widespread view was that Ukraine's membership would reduce the EU's political power in the world, while respondents in France and Romania were more evenly divided. 

The ECFR found a clear division between 'old' and 'new' EU member states on the broader principle of enlargement. Respondents in Austria (53%), Germany (50%) and France (44%) are the most likely to believe that the EU should not accept new members. 

In contrast, a majority (51%) in Romania and 48% in Poland believe that the EU should seek to enlarge. Among the "old" member states, Denmark stands out somewhat, with only 37% of respondents opposing any immediate enlargement. 

The survey revealed strong opposition to the possibility of Türkiye joining the EU: 51% of respondents in the six countries opposed the idea, and less than one in five supported any progress on Türkiye’s membership. 

Europeans also appeared to be lukewarm about Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia becoming EU member states, with the combined support for the accession of these eight countries at less than 30%. 

Support for the accession of Kosovo was the weakest (20% said it should be able to join, and 37% said it should not), Albania (24% in favour, 35% against), Serbia (25% in favour, 35% against) and Georgia (25% in favour, 31% against). 

Opinions are more evenly split regarding North Macedonia (26% in favour, 27% against) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (28% in favour, 29% against), while Moldova (30% in favour, 28% against) and Montenegro (30% against 25%) are more favourably to join the EU. 

As it is known, the EU leaders' summit on 14-15 December is to consider the issue of opening accession talks with Ukraine. Hungary categorically opposes the opening of negotiations.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that he had not changed his mind about the decisions on Ukraine at the EU summit.

Kuleba predicts that the discussion on opening or not opening negotiations with Ukraine will continue literally "until the last minute" of the summit.

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