Net support for Ukraine joining EU in key European nations

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
March 29, 2022, 7:18 AM GMT+0

Attitudes have swung in favour of membership in France and Germany since 2018

Shortly after the Russian invasion of his country last month, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy put pressure on the EU by calling for the immediate admission of Ukraine to the bloc.

While there have been many expressions of support for accelerating the process in the case of Ukraine, it remains unlikely that the nation will find itself within the organisation any time soon.

Nevertheless, new YouGov research shows that there is net support for Ukraine joining the EU among the public in the four largest member states: Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

The Spanish are the most supportive of Ukraine joining the EU, with six in ten (60%) willing to see the embattled nation join the bloc. Only 14% are opposed.

By contrast, there is only plurality support for Ukrainian EU membership in Germany (46%), Italy (45%) and France (42%). Nevertheless, this still represents a notable lead over the number who are opposed (30% in each country).

This also represents a significant shift in opinion in France and Germany, where this question was also asked in late 2018. Back then, only 22% of French people and 30% of Germans thought that Ukraine should be allowed in, both substantially outnumbered by the 47-49% who were opposed.

While it is possible that attitudes shifted in the intervening period before the recent conflict, there is strong evidence to suggest that the Russian invasion is the catalyst for much of this shift.

Although willingness to see most of the countries we asked about join the EU has risen in France and Germany since 2018, that increase is uniquely large in the case of Ukraine. In France, the net shift from -27 to +12 is 39pts, dwarfing the second largest increase (Albania, up 21pts from -43 to -22).

Likewise, in Germany the 33pt increase in net support for Ukraine joining the EU is far ahead of second-placed Turkey (a 21pt rise from -65 to -44).

The same survey, incidentally, shows net support for Russian membership of the EU has declined significantly in both of those nations since 2018, from -40 to -69 in France, and from -35 to -60 in Germany.

Aside from Ukraine, the only countries there is consistent support for joining the EU across all four respondent nations are Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, which all receive majority backing. Willingness to see these nations admitted is about the same in France now as it was in 2018, although it has fallen somewhat in Germany, by between seven and ten net points in each case.

See the full results here