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The public in EU candidate countries support accession
The public in the 11 European Union candidate countries would vote in favour of EU membership in a referendum, according to the European Accession Study 2002 from TNS published today. On average 65 per cent would support EU accession while only 19 per cent would vote against it. Full European Accession Study Report 2002 report is available here.

Support for EU membership is highest in Romania (77 per cent), followed by Bulgaria (67 per cent), Turkey and Hungary (both 66 per cent). An average level of EU Accession support was found in Slovenia (64 per cent), Slovakia and Poland (62 per cent each). People in Lithuania (55 per cent), Latvia (51 per cent), the Czech Republic (49 per cent) and Estonia (48 per cent) were less in favour, however support for accession still outweighed respondents who were against accession.

Interestingly, there are the substantial changes in support levels in several individual countries compared to last year. People in Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Turkey were more willing to vote for membership this year than last year. The biggest increases were in Estonia and Poland (roughly 10 percentage points). Support of EU accession in the rest of the countries remains consistent with the 2001 study.

People in the candidate countries have both positive and negative expectations about EU accession. Seventy-five per cent of respondents across all countries said that they expect better travelling opportunities, while two thirds (67 per cent) stated educational opportunities. On the other hand, less than half of the public believe that the price of consumer goods will lower (41 per cent).

The expectations of whether people will benefit or lose out from EU accession differ between countries. Turkey and Romania most often say "we will benefit", whereas the Czechs are the most reserved - as per last year's findings.

Half of people in the 11 candidate states felt that if their country were to join the EU it would be regarded as a second class partner among other richer EU countries. Roughly one third expressed the opposite opinion. Latvians, Slovaks and Estonians were the most pessimistic in this respect - approximately seven out of ten believing that their country would be seen as second class. Turkey had the least concern, where the pessimistic and the optimistic opinions were balanced.

Jan Herzmann, Managing Director, Taylor Nelson Sofres Factum commented: "The results of this study confirm that the public opinion in EU candidate countries in general tends to favour EU accession. It is significant that no country has shown a major increase in negativity towards accession. Although the public in most candidate countries support EU accession there are substantial concerns, mainly regarding the standard of living, particularly the prices of consumer goods after the EU accession."

Resources:
European Accession Study Report 2002

Ilva Pudule
Phone: +371 67096300
E-mail: ilva.pudule@tns.lv


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