19 October 2006

1165) Love Thy Neighbour?

New EU poll sheds light on countries from the Caucasus to the Atlas mountains

The latest Commission survey looks over the fence at countries bordering the European Union. This 'Special Eurobarometer', published in October, asked the opinions of 30,000 people across the EU25, as well as accession countries Bulgaria and Romania, candidate countries Croatia and Turkey, and finally Northern Cyprus. . .

The questionnaire probed our knowledge and attitudes towards Europe's nearest neighbours, as well as EU policy on the 'arc' stretching from the Caucasus to the Atlas mountains. First and foremost, it revealed that just one in five people across Europe has even heard of the European Neighbourhood Policy - but they still have opinions on a wide range of issues.

When asked about Europe's neighbours, we look first to countries sharing a land border with the EU (Ukraine 58% and Russia 57%) before those on the southern or eastern shores of the Mediterranean, also known as the Maghreb and Mashrek respectively.

Close on three quarters (72%) of those interviewed say they are in favour of more countries joining the club so long as the process is not rushed. A similar proportion (70%) also back more special relationships that stop short of full EU membership - mirroring the views of German chancellor Angela Merkel and French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

European public opinion is, however, more divided over whether the EU should treat neighbouring countries in the same way as any other third countries after the current enlargement process (52% the same way vs. 36% not the same way).

"Perception is strong and sight weak," said warrior-philosopher Miyamoto Musashi. And though some capitals do not see eye to eye with Ankara among others (France last week passed a law banning denial of the Armenian genocide) the general public tends to have a positive perception of relations with neighbouring countries. Some 60% of respondents say these countries do not share the same values as the EU, but they still believe that cooperation is good for both sides.

WaluEurope Tiscali Europe, UK
Oct 17 2006


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