Latest opinion poll findings on Montenegro's EU integration process: steady support for membership

Photo: Dalibor Sevaljevic

PODGORICA, 7 March 2016 – Enlargement story needs to be told the way it deserves, and Montenegrin citizens must be well-informed in order to understand what it means to live in the EU and what the process of accession brings to them. The latest findings of a public opinion poll on EU integration of Montenegro, presented in EU Info Centre, reveal a positive attitude towards the EU and Montenegro's accession process with a stable 74% support for EU membership of those who would turn out at the referendum and over 54% of Montenegrin citizens with an overall positive view of the EU.

“While we are pleased to see such a high number of respondents who believe that EU membership will bring improvements to Montenegro, let us not forget that it is not simply the arrival at the final destination that will bring concrete benefits – it is, more importantly, the journey – the process we are in right now – that brings along deep changes to the benefit of citizens.”- said H.E. Ambassador Mitja Drobnic, Head of EU Delegation, during the presentation of results.

Although there is a positive trend in the level of awareness of the EU integration process in comparison to 2013 figures, the latest findings show that citizens are not sufficiently aware of the significant financial support provided by the EU to Montenegro.

“These data show that we need to do more to make sure that we better communicate the effects of EU accession process, to show the citizens all the success stories, how EU funds contribute to a better quality of life in different areas. Not enough people know that Montenegro benefits from EU funds – grants, not loans! – let alone that the EU is the largest international donor in Montenegro with over 235 million euros provided between 2007 and 2014 and more than 270 million allocated until 2020.”- stressed Ambassador Drobnic.

TV is still the most influential source of information about the EU integration process but there is a growing trend in the number of people who are informed via social media (30% obtain information from Facebook and 15% from Twitter). This does not apply just to the younger generations but also for medium-aged population. The EU integration process is best understood and most trusted by the youth. In their opinion, accession will bring increased mobility, possibility to have their degrees recognized and to study and work in the EU Member States. Respondents - over 50% of them agree that the EU accession will open great opportunities to young people and in the long term improve the living conditions and ensure peace and prosperity in the Balkans, as well as allow citizens to have equal rights as those in the EU.

“We, as a European institution, we can be very satisfied with the results of this analysis because it shows that Montenegro is firmly on the European path, and that public opinion is a catalyst for this process. I just think that it should be improved with specific information, especially to young people, to know more what awaits them in the future", concluded Ambassador Drobnic.

Respondents believe, according to the survey, that the Government bears the greatest responsibility for informing the public about the EU integration process, followed by the media and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European integration.

“It is very important that we bring the process closer the citizens by delivering accurate, transparent and timely information and ensuring that they become active participants in the process, not just its passive consumers. This is exactly what we do through the implementation of the communication strategy, along with numerous partners.”- explained Montenegro's Chief Negotiator with the EU, Ambassador Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic.

According to the British Ambassador to Montenegro Ian Whitting, research shows how much society has changed.

“Smart societies are identified by using the best experiences and applying them. When citizens decide to change, smart societies become wise,” said the British Ambassador to Montenegro.

Within this survey, a questionnaire was conducted in 199 Montenegrin companies. Almost half of the representatives of Montenegrin companies believe that the EU membership will have a good effect on the operations of their company. Public opinion poll on EU integration of Montenegro is carried out by De Facto agency within the framework of an EU-funded project implemented by the British Council, on a sample of 1000 respondents. Detailed results of this survey are available in Montenegrin here.