ECFR poll: Most Europeans support Ukraine’s EU membership bid

A majority of Europeans support Ukraine’s EU membership bid, according to the findings of a poll commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

Across the countries polled, 57 per cent said they are in favour of Ukraine joining the EU, while 19 per cent opposed such a move, the ECFR said.

Poland, which has taken centre-stage in the crisis, is most in favour of Ukraine becoming an EU member.

Seventy per cent of respondents in Poland supported Ukraine’s EU accession, followed by 69 per cent in Portugal and Finland, and 66 per cent in Sweden. A majority in Spain (58 per cent) is also in favour.

Germany and Italy displayed the most opposition to Ukraine’s EU membership bid.

Almost one-third (32 per cent) of those polled in Germany, and just over a quarter of French (26 per cent) and Italian (28 per cent) respondents oppose Ukraine’s EU accession.

However, the prevailing view in these three countries was still in support of Kyiv joining the bloc (48 per cent, 47 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively).

Russia is universally blamed for starting the conflict and is also seen as the biggest obstacle to peace.

More than 80 per cent of respondents in Poland (83 per cent), Sweden (83 per cent), Finland (90 per cent), and the UK (83 per cent) hold Russia as the party responsible for this war – a view shared by strong majorities in Italy (56 per cent), France (62 per cent) and Germany (66 per cent).

A comparable picture is also evident when asked about the chief blockage to a potential peace agreement.

In every country, a majority or plurality of citizens see Russia as the primary obstacle, with this viewpoint most evident in Finland (where 87 per cent said this), Sweden (82 per cent), the UK (76 per cent), Poland (74 per cent) and Spain (69 per cent).  

There is strong support in Europe for cutting Russia adrift.

A majority of respondents believe national governments should sever economic and cultural relations with Moscow, and a prevailing view is also that their country should cut off diplomatic ties with Russia.  

Europeans are divided between those that want “peace” and those that want “justice” from the conflict.

Across the 10 countries surveyed, 35 per cent are in the “Peace” camp, and 22 per cent are in the “Justice” camp.

A further 20 per cent can be considered Swing voters – grouping those who cannot choose between the peace and justice imperatives but still broadly support the EU’s action in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The Peace camp is most prominently supported by Italians, 52 per cent of whom chose this option, whereas Polish responders lead in supporting the Justice camp, with 41 per cent prioritising punishing Russia and restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity. 

Most Europeans want an end to the war as soon as possible, even if it means territorial losses for Ukraine.

While Europeans are in solidarity with Ukraine, only in Poland it is the most popular view that punishing Russia for its aggression should be an immediate priority. 

There is a prevailing feeling that governments are too focused on the war, at the expense of other problems facing their own citizens, the ECFR said.

Forty-two per cent of respondents claimed their governments spend too much time on the war in Ukraine while 36 per cent were pleased with the amount of attention devoted to the conflict, and 4 per cent said there was too little focus on the war.  

There are significant divergences of opinion between countries that share a land border with Ukraine.

In Poland, 83 per cent of those surveyed blame Russia for the conflict, compared to just 58 per cent in Romania, while 74 per cent see Russia as the biggest obstacle to peace – compared to 42 per cent in Romania.

Poles and Romanians also differ in the strength of their solidarity with Ukraine. For example, 71 per cent in Poland – and 54 per cent in Romania – support providing more economic assistance to Ukraine.

Sending additional arms to Ukraine is backed by 78 per cent in Poland – against just 46 per cent in Romania.

The two countries differ most significantly on the idea of sending troops to Ukraine.

Poland is among the few countries where support prevails over opposition to it (by 46 per cent to 30 per cent); meanwhile, Romanians clearly oppose sending troops (by 44 per cent to 26 per cent).

So, geography is not the most important factor defining citizens’ attitudes about the war, the ECFR said.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service/Lukasz Kobus)

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