Citizens of the Balkan region are highly sceptical that their countries will be joining the EU anytime soon, despite shows of support for European integration, while a quarter do not believe their country will ever join the EU, the Balkan Barometer 2017 survey has shown.
According to the results of the survey unveiled by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Serbia is the least enthusiastic country in the region concerning European integration, while Kosovo’s citizens have the highest opinion of the EU.
The RCC says that in 2015 27% of those polled in the Balkans believed they would join the EU by 2020. In 2016 this opinion was expressed by 24% or respondents, whereas in the latest poll the percentage has dropped to 19%. Meanwhile, 28% of those polled believe that accession will never happen.
RCC Secretary General Goran Svilanović said at the poll’s presentation on 9 October in Brussels that EU officials had often talked about enlargement fatigue among EU citizens and politicians, adding that this survey showed that the citizens of the region had also grown tired of promises and expectations.
“It is now 17 years since the entire process started and people think it’s all taking too long, while their lives have not changed as much as they expected,” said Svilanović.
In his state of the union address, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that Montenegro and Serbia might join the EU by 2025. He stressed that this is positive and encouraging, because it means there are no alternative policies and that the membership process is unfolding, as far off as it may seem to some, but admitted that people have stopped believing that membership will actually materialise.
The survey revealed that 42% of Balkan citizens consider EU membership a good thing, while 19% disagree. The citizens of Kosovo have the best opinion of the EU, with 90% of those polled saying the EU is a good thing. Serbia sits at te other end of the scale, with just 26% sharing this opinion.