A new poll conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) confirms that the majority of EU citizens and states are not interested in expanding the EU to include the countries of the Western Balkans. The poll's results confirm past polls and surveys.
When it comes to such opposition, German and Austria are the countries most opposed: 46% of Germans and 44% of Austrians, followed by 42% of the French, are against letting in any of the countries of South Eastern Europe, which include Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Only 26% of Germans favored letting in even “some” of the southeastern countries. The French were slightly less generous with 22% in favor, and the Austrians more generous with 34%.
In stark contrast to the western Europeans, the countries closer to the region were more likely to want them in. Greece and Romania ranked highest when asked whether “all” of the accession countries could be admitted: with 46% and 39%, respectively. Slovakia and Poland led the pack when asked whether they thought “some” should be granted entry.
The survey underscores that there is what in EU circles is called “enlargement fatigue,” which refers to tiredness and frustration with an ever-expanding EU, which is currently 28 states.
According to the ECFR: “The main message for the Western Balkans is clear: countries in the region need to demonstrate a sufficient level of political governance before any technical process of EU accession can begin.”
The results are even more negative than those of an autumn 2018 Eurobarometer poll that found that 45% of EU citizens were against enlargement of any kind, 43% for it.
“France’s and Germany’s main message for the Western Balkans is clear,” concluded the ECFR, “countries in the region should prioritise efforts to demonstrate a sufficient level of political governance – and they will be permitted to begin the technical processes of EU accession only after they have achieved this.”