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Assessing EU Membership Experience, Benefits  and Futher Integration:
Public Opinion in Bulgaria 2015

08.05.2015

Download link: " Assessing EU Membership Experience, Benefits and Futher Integration: Public Opinion in Bulgaria 2015 " by Marin Lessenski, EuPI Policy Brief 47/May 2015

Dowload link to theEuPI policy brief 47/May 2015 in Bulgarian 

Download link to thesummary in Bulgarian 

In 2015, the vast majority of Bulgarians – 64,4% - continue to assess positively the EU membership of their country. About a fifth of respondents – 21,8% - assess the experience as negative. The trends have remained unchanged over the last three years with a very slight improvement in 2015 over 2014. Bulgarians remain consistently in favor of EU, with over 62% asserting that they would vote in favor of EU membership should it be put to the vote again. There is a decrease of about 7% in support to membership in 2015 and 2014 in comparison to 2013, accompanied by a 5% increase of unfavorable potential votes, which increased from 16,2% in 2013 to 21,4% in 2015.

In 2015, an estimate of 17% would support for an openly anti-EU party compared to 11,5% just two years ago. At the same time, there is a nearly 11% decrease in the share of those, who would not vote for an anti-EU country. This means that there is a niche for an anti-EU party or party running on anti-EU platform.
Bulgarians have trusted Brussels more than their national government and this have not changed over the years. In 2015, share of people who trust the EU institutions is 41,7% compared to just 12,4% of those who trust more the national government. There is an increase in the trust of EU institutions by 5% compared to 2014, but it is nearly identical to the result in 2011 and 2013. The trust in the national institutions has hit another low, decreasing from 16% in 2012 to 12,4% in 2015. The share of people, who trust both the European and the national institutions, has not varied too much over the years. The top three benefits of EU membership, according to Bulgarians, are (a) job opportunities; (b) opportunities for travelling abroad; (c) education opportunieis.

Schengen and Eurozone membership are the two unfinished projects of Bulgaria’s further EU intergation. As accesstion to Schengen and the Eurozone have been delayed for years, the public support has decreased over time. The support for Schengen entry has been dropping, and has lost 13% in the period 2011-2015 – from 67,3% to 54,3% respectively. Opposition to Schengen entry has increased too from 6,2% in 2011 reaching 16% in 2015. The survey shows that 42,1% support Eurozone membership, and 30,3% disapprove it. But there is a certain paradox: as respondents approve Eurozone membership with 42,1%, only 18,6% support changing the lev with the euro. It seems that Bulgarians demonstrate a somewhat abstract support for further European integration, but this support might get hesitant when they are asked to weight in specific projects.


Support for exhanging the national currency with the single European currency has been steadily decreasing over the years, while opposition has grown. For example, support has shrunk twofold in the period 2011 – 2015 from 33,8% to 18,6%. Opposition has grown by 12% in the same period – from 45,2% to 57,6%.
Part of the explanation why Bulgarians do not want to ditch the lev may be that the currency board has been in existance for more than 15 years.  As the lev is pegged to the euro, it seems that the situation works just fine for over 46%, with about 21% opposing the currency board.

Projects
In Focus
1 million Bulgarians live in other EU countries. As European citizens, they have the right to vote and to be elected in the European Parliament elections in any other EU country.The “Vote Abroad” campaign is aimed at informing the Bulgarian citizens living abroad or in Bulgaria about the European Parliament elections (22 to 25 May 2014) on when, where and how to vote.
There is more information and updates on the interactive web-site and social media:
http://BulgariaIn.EU
https://www.facebook.com/BulgariaIn.EU
https://twitter.com/BulgariaInEU
Is Europe becoming a less cultural continent? The findings of a new Eurobarometer survey on cultural access and participation – the first on the topic since 2007 – suggest this may be the case.Although there are marked differences between Member States, in general fewer Europeans are engaging in cultural activities, as performers or spectators. The decline in participation has affected all cultural activities except cinema.
Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union at midnight Sunday (1 July), a decade after it started the process and less than 20 years after the end of its war of independence from Yugoslavia. The expansion comes at a difficult time for both the EU and Croatia (Photo: MLKR) Thousands lined the streets of the capital Zagreb to the sound of Beethoven's Ode to Joy and fireworks as the country's leaders accompanied by EU officials celebrated the event. Read it at EUObserver
Civic protests against the appointment of a controversial tycoon as head of Bulgaria’s major security agency started on June 14, 2013. A number of NGOs, OSI-Sofia among them, requested the government to revoke its decision and abide to the lawful procedures. The protests continued in defiance to the oligarchic control in the country, despite desperate measures by the government and the parties that support it.
The Guardian published an article by Ivan Krastev on January 16, 2013 about the alleged threat of Bulgarians and Romanians. Ivan Krastev debunks the myths by using OSI-Sofia study on migration, saying "There is no data suggesting that Bulgarian benefit tourists are coming to flood Britain, nor is there an indication that the Bulgarian government or media are trying to export their social problems by encouraging the poorest groups in Bulgarian society to take the plane to London.”
An article about Bulgaria in the print edition of the Economist quoted a study by OSI-Sofia on public attitudes. The article “In a rough region” from July 7, 2012 edition, with the subtitle “Once Bulgaria hoped to be like Greece; now it just hopes to survive” covers the state of Bulgaria’s economy, politics and society in mid-2012. You can read
the article here
EuPI’s Marin Lessenski was featured in Financial Times Deutchland in an article about the effects of the Greek crisis on the Balkan countries. The article “Osteuropa zittert vor der Drachme” by Hubert Beyerle, published on 01.06.2012 is available here.
The op-ed “Defining threats beyond the eurozone crisis” features the Catch-Up Index on Euractiv "Europe's economic and financial challenges are not the ultimate or even the defining threat to the European project, says Marin Lessenski, author of a new report published by the European Policies Initiative and Open Society Institute in Sofia." You can read the full op-ed in the Euractiv "Opinion" section here
As Bulgaria and Romania are looking to resolving the impasse to their Schengen membership bid in 2011, an EuPI policy brief released in June illuminates the broader context and challenges to Schengen transformation and enlargement. The brief sheds a light on the facts and common (mis)conceptions about Schengen’s accession of the two new EU members. The brief also touches upon the changes in the thinking and policy planning in the EU following the critical transformations in its southern neighborhood. You can download the policy brief here  
"Challenges to the New Programming of EU funds in Bulgaria after 2013 Based on the Analysis of the Experience in 2007 to 2013"   is a new report by the European Policies and Civic Participation program of OSI-Sofia.
Publications
imageThe publication contains the findings of the new edition of the Catch-Up Index. The index measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries –EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators. There are five editions of the index since 2011, which provides the opportunity to identify trends and patterns in the process of development of individual countries, groups of countries and categories of the index.
The index is created and maintained by the OpenSociety Institute – Sofia and is available at
www.TheCatchUpIndex.eu .
The report “The Gravity Effect: Findings of the European Catch-Up Index 2014” (Index 2014), presents the findings of the fourth edition of the European Catch-Up index, which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries –EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators, with scores from 100-0 (highest to lowest) and rankings from 1-35 (highest to lowest).
The report “It’s a Process: Findings of the European Catch-Up Index” (Index 2013), presents the findings of the third edition of the European Catch-Up index, which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries –EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators, with scores from 100-0 (highest to lowest) and rankings from 1-35 (highest to lowest).
The report “Aftershocks: What Did the Crisis Do to Europe?” (Index 2012), presents the findings of the second edition of the European Catch-Up index, which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries –EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators, with scores from 100-0 (highest to lowest) and rankings from 1-35 (highest to lowest).
The European Catch-Up Index The new European Catch-Up Index redefines the current notions about the state of the EU, Europe and the economic crisis by analyzing the performance of 35 countries in Economy, Democracy, Governance and Quality of Life.
A series of monitoring reports on the progress of Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to join Schengen were prepared and released in October 2010 and February 2011 in cooperation with the Romanian Center for European Policies (CRPE).
23.07.2009

“The Unfinished Business of the Fifth Enlargement Countries” analyzes the problems faced by the ten new member states after their accession to the EU in eleven policy areas including political development, the economy, the healthcare system and education.
EuPI has released a series of reports within the project "The EU New Member States as Agenda Setters in the Enlarged European Union", with the "Not Your Grandfather’s Eastern Bloc" comparative policy report.
EuPI has contributed to a major report on EU-Russia relations by ECFR's Mark Leonard and Nicu Popescu

2008 European Policies Initiative

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