Montenegro: Support for EU membership gains ground among citizens

Montenegro: Support for EU membership gains ground among citizens

According to the results of a public opinion poll conducted in November and December 2020 by the DeFacto Agency on behalf of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, 77.6% of Montenegrin citizens have a positive attitude towards the EU (compared to 66.1% in December 2019), while the number of those with a negative attitude fell to 17.7% in December 2020 (compared to 24.3% in December 2019).

“74.8% of respondents support their country’s membership in the European Union, while 22.3% oppose it. This represents a large increase compared to December 2019, when EU membership was supported by about 66% of citizens and opposed by 23%. The research also shows that, if a referendum were to be called now, as many as 85.7% would vote for Montenegro’s membership in the EU,” the EU Delegation to Montenegro announced.

Presenting the report, Olivera Komar of the DeFacto Agency stressed that the most notable change had occurred in the category of the so-called moderate supporters, whose percentages had increased at the expense of the moderate opponents of Montenegro’s accession to the European Union. “A possible explanation could be that some of the citizens who had been skeptical of the EU before the August 30 Parliamentary Elections changed their views in a positive way, while those who had previously supported post-election integration did not change their views in a negative way,” she said.

The main reasons for supporting Montenegro’s membership in the EU remain the same YoY. As a key reason for their support, half of the respondents cite a better quality and standard of living. A better future and improved standard of living are also popular associations with the EU for Montenegrin citizens. Next in line is the possibility of free movement, while the stability offered by membership ranks third.

More than half of the citizens are aware of the assistance the EU has provided to Montenegro in the fight against COVID-19. Almost half of the respondents (48.6%) believe that the EU has expressed the most robust solidarity towards Montenegro in the fight against the epidemic. 64.8% of respondents believe that the EU’s response to the coronavirus epidemic in Montenegro was swift and sufficient. Citizens recognize the Union as the biggest foreign financial donor in Montenegro, but also as the community with which Montenegro should have the strongest political, economic and trade connections.

“The fact that today we have a record-high level of public support for Montenegro’s EU integration clearly indicates that citizens recognize and appreciate the significance and sincerity of the EU support amid these difficult times. I was delighted to learn that this survey has revealed that, if a referendum was to be called, more than 85% of citizens would vote for Montenegro’s EU accession. This is a convincing illustration of the level of trust Montenegrin citizens have in the EU and the strength of their desire to become part of a united Europe. This is a strong message to all relevant national stakeholders in whom citizens have placed their faith to work together and bridge their differences, so that Montenegro may implement the vital reforms and earn its rightful place in the EU,” said Ambassador Oana Cristina Popa, Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro.

Widespread corruption, the economic situation in the country and widespread organised crime are perceived by the citizens as the biggest obstacle to Montenegro’s membership in the EU. The majority of respondents believe that Montenegro’s membership in the European Union cannot harm state interests, and over 50% believe membership will engender much more benefits than harm. 43.2% of the respondents believe Montenegro will fulfil the criteria for membership in the Union by 2025, while 31.2% answered “Don’t Know” and 13.2% stated Montenegro cannot meet the set criteria.

Montenegro’s Chief Negotiator Zorka Kordić stated that the citizens’ desire for Montenegro to be part of the European family constitutes a binding factor in the Montenegrin society. She pointed out that EU integration embodies the country’s most comprehensive and complex reform process in recent history, adding that it is a process led by the Government on behalf of the whole society, which nevertheless concerns all citizens. This is why it is necessary that citizens receive full and quality information, as well as that they provide their active participation and support to this process. /ibna