From EU ‘enlargement fatigue’ to ‘enlargement enthusiasm’?
Eurobarometer trends show a ‘critical juncture’ in EU enlargement policy. The long-term unfavourable trends toward the admission of new members have been reversed, with EU citizens in favour today being greater than those against. In the same fashion as the 2004 enlargement was framed through the identity argument for the purpose of reuniting Europe after the end of the Cold War, the current war in Ukraine has changed the public’s perspective towards the Balkan and Eastern Neighbourhood countries, which are recognised as ‘one of us’ by the international European community. Against this background, keeping public opinion in mind is of utmost importance, since mass attitudes, through their influence on political behaviour, do play a crucial role in influencing EU enlargement policy. Understanding the links between public opinion and enlargement – and reform in the EU more generally – is thus indispensable for assessing the EU integration capacity.
The Policy Brief is published in the framework of the WB2EU project.