4 July 2001

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Eurobarometer finds Europeans grossly uninformed on EU enlargement

Unlike the Maltese public, who have over recent years been unceasingly deliberating over the pros and cons of EU membership, the European public appears to be completely in the dark over the question of EU enlargement.

According to the results of a poll released on Monday by Eurobarometer, most Europeans admit that they know little about the European Union's most ambitious project to date - its enlargement into eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

While 44 per cent of respondents said they felt they were not very well informed about EU enlargement, an additional 34 per cent replied they felt that they were not informed at all.

On the other hand, only a surprising 19 per cent said they were well informed on issues regarding the 2004 enlargement process.

Asked which three countries they felt would be the first to accede, respondents named Poland (18 per cent), Hungary (16 per cent) and Czech Republic (12 per cent) – results that reportedly match most experts' expectations.

However, 10 per cent said they thought Turkey would among the first wave of entrants - although it has yet to start accession negotiations following concern over human rights and democratic reforms.

Another 21 per cent named either Norway or Switzerland -- neither of which are remotely interested in joining the European Union.

Asked to name three countries they felt should not be allowed to enter the EU, 23 per cent named non-candidate Albania, 20 per cent Turkey and 19 per cent Morocco, also not a candidate.

Meanwhile, Italian respondents gave some of the more amusing responses to the survey, with a large percentage listing Britain – an EU member since 1973 – as a candidate for future membership, however, they determined that the UK would not be among the first wave of entrants.

Funnily, after being shown a list of candidate countries, Italians expressed a good deal of interest in Malta, Cyprus and Turkey – expressing an interest in "cultural aspects and tourism".

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt