BROWN BAG SEMINAR
Who is Afraid of EU Enlargement? A Multilevel Comparative Analysis
(İzmir University of Economics)
March 23, 2016, Wednesday
11:30 FASS 2034
What determines citizen support for European Union (EU) enlargement? Unfortunately, we know little about the conditions under which the public opposes a particular country’s EU accession. To fill this gap, this paper adopts a comparative approach to examine the determinants of attitudes towards the membership of 12 candidate or potential candidate countries. Using 2005 Eurobarometer survey data from the EU-25, we examine the relative explanatory power of two leading theories - utilitarian and identity - in explaining public opposition to EU enlargement. Our results reveal that attitude formation is a complex phenomenon, with economic and identity-related considerations jointly shaping citizens’ attitudes about membership for specific countries. While fear of having to contribute more to the EU budget is the most consistent economic consideration shaping publics’ views on enlargement, religious identifications, attachment to national and European identities and fear of loss of cultural identity are the three most powerful identity-related predictors of public opposition to enlargement. Our analysis also shows that the influence of identity is more consistent and, in most cases, stronger than the impact of economic calculations on citizens’ distaste for enlargement.