ÖGfE Survey: EU Enlargement – Austrians slightly more supportive towards potential new EU members

Tomorrow the European Commission will present its enlargement package setting out the way forward regarding potential future EU member states. Since Croatia joining the Union in 2013, the topic of enlargement has visibly lost momentum. Austrians too show little support towards EU ambitions of the Western Balkan countries and Turkey. Still, we can remark that the number of those opposing the EU accession of the countries of former Yugoslavia and Albania has been strongly decreasing in the last years while only a small minority would welcome Turkey as a new member as a new ÖGfE survey shows.

31 percent of Austrians support Bosnia and Herzegovina becoming an EU member while 36 percent oppose it. 24 percent are indifferent (Difference to 100 percent = “don’t know / no answer”)

29 percent support an EU accession of Serbia, 45 percent would be against Serbia becoming an EU member, 15 percent are indifferent.

26 percent would support Macedonia (FYROM) joining the EU, while 41 percent would not be in favour and 25 percent expressing indifference. Austrians’ stance towards Montenegro is nearly identical: 27 percent support its future membership, 39 percent oppose it, 24 percent are indifferent.

Austrians’ opinion towards EU ambitions of Albania and Kosovo are quite similar: 23 percent of respondents would be in favour of the two countries joining the Union, 45 respectively 46 percent would be against it while 22 percent are indifferent.

There is strong opposition towards Turkey becoming a member of the European Union: Only 9 percent would support it, 73 percent would oppose it, 13 percent say they are indifferent.

An ÖGfE time series shows that Austrians have become slightly more supportive regarding a possible EU accession of Western Balkan countries while opposition towards some potential EU members has strongly decreased (resp. stronger indifference): In the case of Albania the number of Austrians opposing EU membership has decreased by 23 percentage points since autumn 2012, we can remark a similar tendency in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina (- 22 pp), Kosovo (- 20 pp) or Serbia (- 17 pp since autumn 2013). Public opinion towards Macedonia (FYROM) resp. Montenegro joining the Union shows more ups and downs, still a positive trend is also visible. Quite contrary, opposition of Turkey becoming an EU member has been increasing in the last years.

Only 23 percent of respondents wants Austria to actively promote the EU accession of the Western Balkan countries. 58 percent do not think this should be a priority, 19 percent do not take a position. Since October 2016 public opinion has not changed significantly.

The current survey was conducted from 20 to 28 March 2018 by the Sozialwissenschaftliche Studiengesellschaft (SWS) on behalf of ÖGfE (Tel SWS 273). 514 persons were questioned via telephone (Austrian population from the age of 16 / weighted according to gender, age and education). Maximum margin of fluctuation approx. +/- 4,3 percent. Difference to 100 percent due to rounded values respectively (*) „don’t know / no answer.)