Expatica news

New EU leaves most Belgians cold

10 May 2004

BRUSSELS – Most Belgians are either openly hostile to the new enlarged European Union or don’t know whether this month’s arrival of ten new EU countries is a good thing or not, a new European Commission survey revealed on Monday.

The Eurobarometer survey found that 49 percent of Belgians are against EU enlargement and a further 13 percent don’t know what to think about it.

Only 38 percent of people questioned think the new, bigger EU is a good thing. 

Belgian Professor Hendrik Vos, from Gent University, told Flemish newspaper De Morgen that the survey showed that the country’s political leaders have failed to explain the benefits of enlargement to the Belgian people.

Belgium is by no means alone in its scepticism about the new bumper-sized EU.

In Germany 56 percent of the population were openly against admitting the new member sates into the EU club, while in Austria 52 percent of the population was opposed.

In France 47 percent of people polled said they opposed enlargement and a further 16 percent said they did not know if it was a good thing or not.

The Netherlands was not far behind with 45 percent of voters against and 11 percent undecided.

At the other end of the spectrum Spain, which joined the European club in 1986, has emerged as one of the strongest supporters of the latest EU expansion.

An impressive 59 percent of Spanish voters said they were in favour of enlargement.

The ten new countries that joined the EU on 1 May are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news