Czechs most negative, Poles most positive on EU membership, PASOS project poll shows
News source: PASOS Secretariat, Czech Republic
Czechs hold the most pessimistic view of EU membership among a group of four European Union new-member states, while Poles have the most positive views of joining the union, according to the results of public-opinion surveys conducted as part of a PASOS project.
The polling in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Poland was conducted as part of “Enlargement and Citizenship: Looking to the Future,” a project to gauge the level of citizen engagement in the EU policymaking process in EU new-member states.
PASOS commissioned the polling in the Czech Republic, and three members of the network oversaw polls in their respective countries: the European Institute (Bulgaria); the Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS (Latvia); and the Institute of Public Affairs (Poland).
The polling showed that nearly 35 percent of Czechs believe that joining the EU has brought their country more losses than benefits. In contrast, about 37 percent of Poles said that joining the EU brought their country more benefits than losses.
“Czechs are not only dissatisfied with their own politicians’ efforts to represent their interests at the EU level, but also with EU institutions,” said Jeff Lovitt, Executive Director of PASOS. “The majority of Czechs are not even aware that they vote to elect their MEPs. This reflects a general political malaise.
“While their pessimism about the fruits of EU membership is shared by Latvians, Czechs are the only country surveyed to believe that both democracy and the quality of life is worse following EU accession,” Lovitt said. “Poles and Bulgarians are much more positive about the benefits of EU membership and about the performance of their own representatives at the EU level.”
Other survey results showed that:
- Latvians also took a rather dim view of EU membership. Nearly 33 percent of them said that joining the EU had hurt the quality of life in their country.
- Bulgarians hold the best view of the European Parliament: 52 percent rated the performance of institution as “rather good” or “very good.” The Czechs gave the EP the worst ratings , with more than 47 percent rating its performance as “rather bad” or “very bad.”
- Bulgarians are the best informed citizens with regard to understanding how members of the European Parliament are chosen. About 57 percent knew that MEPs are elected in popular elections in their home countries.
The survey also revealed a very low level of awareness among citizens in all four countries about the EU’s European Citizens Initiative (ECI) program, which allows EU citizens to petition the European Commission to pass legislation.
The project, which is being supported by the European Commission, has 3 objectives:
1. To educate European citizens and civil society in the processes through which the policies of the EU take form, and in communications strategies for advocating for EU policies, and spreading ownership of EU policymaking among EU citizens
2. To raise awareness among the publics in EU members and prospective member countries around the need for citizens’ engagement to ensure their elected representatives and governments fully engage at the EU level in achieving policy decisions that meet the needs of their citizens.
3. To strengthen citizens’ engagement in the policy process ahead of the European Parliament elections in 2014.