BRUSSELS – According to the newest Eurobarometer Survey, conducted in June this year and published this month, Serbia is the only Western Balkan country whose citizens have more trust in the national government (41%) than in the European Union (33%).
In North Macedonia, these figures are 57% for EU and 33% for the national government, in Albania 69% to 40% and the result in Montenegro is 47% to 43%. Surveys have not been conducted in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Serbia is also the only surveyed Western Balkan country with more distrust than trust in the EU, the difference being a significant 20%.
In the EU itself, the average trust in the Union is 44%, while the average distrust is 46%.
When it comes to the image EU has in the countries of the Western Balkans, Albania is again at the top of the list, with 81% of its citizens having either a “very positive” or “fairly positive” image of the EU, while for only 3% that image is “fairly negative” or “very negative”.
On the other hand, the percentage of those who have a positive image of EU in Serbia is less than half of what it is in Albania: 37%. It is still higher than the percentage of the citizens who have a negative image – 27% – but the former group has been reduced by 5% and the latter has increased by the same number since November 2018.
In Montenegro, this ratio is 63% to 18% in favour of a positive image, while the North Macedonia has seen a slight decrease since last year, the ratio being 56% to 17%.
Lower grades for national economy compared to EU citizens
Montenegro is the only surveyed country in which the view of the state of the national economy is close to EU average: 48% assess the economy as “good” while 47% assess it as “bad”.
The ratio in the EU is almost completely the same, with 49% of average EU citizens being satisfied with the economic performance of their country, while 47% are not.
On the other hand, more than 60% of citizens in Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia say that the economy of their country is “bad”, with that number being highest in Serbia – 67%.
“Economic situation” and “unemployment” are the most important issues for the citizens of the region, often much more so than for the average EU citizens.
An issue where the difference between EU and WB is also quite visible is the environment and climate issues – 20% of EU citizens find these topics important, while the highest percentage in the region is 7%, in Albania.
About half of WB population feels attached to the EU
According to the results of the survey, more than half of the citizens of Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro feel attached to the European Union, the percentage in all three countries being between 54 and 57. Serbia, again, is showing less attachment to the EU, with only 22% of its citizens expressing this feeling.
For the majority of the surveyed citizens across the region, EU personally means “freedom to travel, study and work anywhere in the EU”, as well as “economic prosperity” and “social protection”.
The categories the citizens of the Western Balkans associate the least with the EU, in contrast to its own citizens, are “bureaucracy”, “more crime” and “unemployment”.