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Dutch Public Opinion on EU Membership of the Western Balkans

In 2019, the Dutch parliament vetoed the start of EU accession negotiations with Albania. Together with the simultaneous French veto against the start of talks with North Macedonia and Albania, it became clear how fragile the efforts to expand the EU in Southeastern Europe are.

Many observers classify the Netherlands as fundamentally sceptical about enlargement, which is often attributed to a negative attitude towards EU enlargement among the Dutch population. Although several surveys have confirmed this negative attitude in the Netherlands, most of them only examine the subject superficially. It is still unclear how deeply rooted this rejection in the population is, whether this topic is of great importance to the population in the Netherlands, and how the negative attitude towards EU enlargement is related to attitudes towards the European Union per se.

This research study aims to provide answers to these open questions. It is a cooperation of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG), European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) and d|part and it comes as a result of the representative opinion poll on this topic in the Netherlands. In addition to the survey, interviews with Dutch politicians at national and European level as well as focus groups with Dutch citizens were conducted.

The survey examines in depth the attitudes of the Dutch population towards EU enlargement in the Western Balkans, the perception of previous EU enlargement steps, and the general view of the EU.

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