I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but there seems to have been a deafening silence on outcomes following last weeks ‘informal’ EU foreign ministers gathering in Newport. The only thing I have been able to find was a piece from Radio Free Europe which informed me that ‘No News Is Good News‘. Possibly, but this doesn’t explain the reasons for the blackout.
Meantime all the headlines are stolen today by the results of a survey of EU opinion on the accession question conducted for the German Marshall Fund.
The survey – based on one thousand interviews conducted across the following nine EU countries: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and the UK – show public support for Turkey membership declining sharply. According to the survey more Europeans think that Turkey’s membership of the EU is a “bad thing” (29%) than a “good thing” (22%). Two fifths (42%) think it is “neither a good nor bad thing”. This contrasts with 2004 findings , when 30% of the interviewees thought it was a good thing and only 20% considered it a bad thing.
As to the reasoning behind the opinions, as the FT notes, this seems one more time to be unclear:
“In all, 59 per cent reject the argument that Turkey does not belong in the EU because it is a mainly Muslim country, 62 per cent disagree with the argument that it is too populous, 62 per cent that it is too poor.”
Note these percentages relate to people rejecting the indicated arguments, which leaves you asking yourself what it is exactly they are all objecting to.
One odd knock on effect of all this is indicated by the FT in another article, where it quotes Ron Asmus, executive director of the GMF’s Transatlantic Centre in Brussels, as saying:
“The Bush administration has got to be disappointed by these numbers,”
This would presumeably be because he finds himself in the uncomfortable position of backing the European ‘political elite’ against EU voters. Of course, the anti-US , anti-globalisation camp will just love the irony in this.