No. 6




Well-being Is the Predominant Factor in Public Opinion of EU Accession

17 December 2002


RiTo No. 6, 2002

  • Aksel Kirch

    director, the Institute for European Studies

As Estonia was shaking off the Soviet yoke, the idea of joining the EU had an entirely different meaning than it does today, now that Estonia is one of the more certain candidates in the current round of accession.

To better analyze the respective importance of factors in influencing the referendum decision, it is necessary to appraise the context in which a possible referendum decision may be made next year.

The article examines the reasons why the desire to join the EU that formed among the political elite in the transition period has not become widespread and why the electorate’s support and that of the nation in general has remained relatively modest.

According to a survey conducted from June 2002 by ES Turu-uuringute AS, typical yea-sayers tend to be economically better-off and are likely to live in Tallinn. They see EU membership as part of Estonia’s rapid and positive economic development and personal well-being. The affluent are the only segment that is likely give their unconditional support to EU membership at referendum.

At the same time, a large share of people take a more skeptical view or are entirely against EU membership. For example, according to the June 2002 survey only 43% of voting-age people would support EU membership either “firmly” or “likely”, with 16% “likely” opposing and 15% “firmly” opposing; 12% would abstain. The 14% remainder had no opinion. Thus the current ratio of for/against/don’t know is 43:43:14.

Full article in Estonian