In 2019 French President Emmanuel Macron’s vote against the accession of North Macedonia and Albania showed the fragility of efforts to continue the enlargement of the EU on the Western Balkans. Many commentators have asserted a deeply routed scepticism in the French public as a key reason for these decisions. At first sight that seems plausible: several polls seem to suggest that, when asked, a large number of French people voice reservations. However, the questions asked typically only scratch the surface. Existing studies do not allow us to understand whether such critical views are actually deeply routed or just superficial responses. Furthermore, research so far does not show us how much people actually care about this topic and how responses in relation to Western Balkan countries relate to evaluations on enlargement more generally.
This project aims to fill that gap. In cooperation with the Brussels-based Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI), d|part will conduct a public opinion study on the issue in France. We will carry out a representative survey of the French adult population to elicit their attitudes towards the experience of EU enlargement to date, prospects of enlargement in general and views on specific countries joining the EU in the near future on the Western Balkans and elsewhere. In addition, we will examine levels of knowledge about the EU and potential accession countries and relate all these views to people’s wider political opinions. The results of the project will be presented publicly and made available on the website (in autumn 2020).