Turkey less popular choice to join the EU than even Russia

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
August 03, 2016, 11:03 AM GMT+0

Across all countries in YouGov’s latest Eurotrack survey, Turkey was the country the most people thought should not be allowed to join the EU

During the recent EU referendum, the prospect of Turkey joining the European Union – aided by the British government – was a key message used by the Leave campaign to try and swing the vote their way. The Remain camp countered that even if the British government did vote for Turkey to join the EU, the accession could – and would – be vetoed by any number of other member countries.

Ultimately, whether or not the way people voted during the referendum had much to do with Turkey will never be known. What is apparent, however, is that there is immense hostility to Turkey joining the EU – not just in Britain, but across a whole range of countries. In fact, with 67% of British people opposing Turkish membership of the EU, Britain is the least hostile of all the EU countries in YouGov's latest Eurotrack survey.

According to the survey, there is only one country that would be universally welcomed into the EU: Iceland. The island nation was approved for entry by a large majority of people in each country surveyed. Croatia – which became a member in 2013 – was also broadly accepted, scoring double-digits leads in its favour from all countries except France, where it was opposed by 5% more people than welcomed. Every other country was opposed by more people than supported (with the exception of Serbia, which had a net score of +6% among Swedes).

Even Russia, having instigated armed conflict in Ukraine in 2014 and supported the Assad regime in Syria, is more welcome in the EU than Turkey. In fact as many as nearly one in five people in Germany (18%) and France (19%) believe that Russia should be allowed to join the EU, making it more favoured in those countries than official EU membership candidate Albania (15% in both countries).

Looking at the attitudes of Europeans to Turkey’s impact on the world, it’s not hard to see why so few favour the country joining the EU. In no EU country did more than 2% of people say that Turkey has a positive influence on world affairs. Once again, Britain was the least hostile of all EU countries towards Turkey, with ‘just’ 64% of people believing it has a negative influence on world affairs, compared to between 77% and 80% in other EU countries (this question was not asked in France).

A note of caution must be made – it is worth pointing out that a certain portion of Turkey’s poor standing could be a factor of the survey being conducted in the immediate aftermath of the failed coup d’état on 15 July. It is unlikely, however, that the country was seen in significantly better terms before this.

Photo: PA

See the full results here