On balance, Britons want Croatia and Iceland allowed into the EU – but there is significant opposition to allowing countries such as Turkey, Kazakhstan and Morocco into the Union
Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union yesterday, nearly 20 years after the ex-Yugoslav country emerged from a brutal war of independence. Speaking on the same day from Kazahkstan, David Cameron said that the EU should stretch “from the Atlantic to the Urals”, a mountain range that runs from western Russia and through Kazakhstan.
YouGov research reveals that, on balance, people in Great Britain tend to support Croatia’s accession, with slightly more of the public in favour of it (37%) than opposed to it (33%).
However, YouGov also asked about nine other countries who have either already started accession talks or have been discussed as possible EU members before, and the only two countries with positive support are Croatia, with +4%, and Iceland, with +24%. In fact, Kazakhstan is the least popular choice, with only 12% of Britains saying it should be allowed to join the EU and 56% saying it should not be – an overall score of -44%. This puts Kazakhstan slightly behind the North African state of Morocco, whose accession receives -42% support.
Supporters of some parties are also, unsurprisingly, more or less supportive of countries joining the EU in general. On average, UKIP voters are more likely to oppose countries joining the EU than support it by a margin of 60%. Labour and Lib Dem voters are, in general, more inclined towards allowing new EU members, but on average these voters are also more likely to oppose allowing the countries mentioned to join, by margins of 14% and 15%, respectively.
When it comes to how the countries stand relative to each other there is more consensus, however. For all four major parties Iceland, Croatia and Serbia ranked first, second and third, respectively. Additionally, Morocco and Kazakhstan never rank higher than 8th.
There is less consensus about Israel, which is ranked 5th by Conservative voters and 10th by Labour voters, and Albania, which ranks 8th with UKIP and Conservative voters but only 5th with Labour voters.
Albania formally applied for membership in 2009 and is near the front of the queue but will not gain full membership until 2015 at the earliest. Turkey and Iceland are also in negotiations – Turkey began accession talks at the same time as Croatia, in October 2005, and Iceland began its talks in 2010 – but negotiations for both countries have run into repeated hurdles, leaving their bids in doubt.