Majority still favours EU accession in Turkey - poll

Support in Turkey for accession to the European Union fell in 2019, but a large majority of Turks still hopes the country becomes a member of the bloc, a survey conducted by Turkish pollster MetroPOLL revealed.

The research, conducted for the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey and Economic Development Foundation, showed that Turks still favour EU accession, despite drawn out negotiations that have come close to petering out.

More than 60 percent of respondents still wish to join the union, according to the latest poll of 4,506 people in 35 provinces. Though still a sizable majority, this figure shows a steep slide since 2017, when 78.9 percent said they wanted to join the bloc.

Yet few believe that EU membership is a possibility. Just 23 percent of respondents said they thought Turkey could join, compared to 31 percent in 2017.

Sixty percent of Turks believe Turkey has reached the level of administrative development necessary to join the bloc, while 57 percent believe the country is taking the steps required for accession.

The main reason for joining, cited by 75 percent of respondents, is to improve Turkey’s economic prosperity, while 57 percent said it would benefit the country’s democratic and human rights record.

Support for joining was most enthusiastic in the southeast, where 66 percent said they wished to join. The same percentage of 18-24-year-old Turks favoured joining the bloc, making this the age group with the highest level of support.

But just 10 percent of respondents viewed the EU as Turkey’s most important political partner and just 19 percent said it was the country’s most important economic partner.

Russia was viewed as the most important partner in both areas by the largest number of people, even though the majority of Turkey’s trade is with the EU.

Turkey began negotiations for full membership to the EU under the ruling Justice and Development Party’s leadership in 2005, but the talks have slowed to a halt since 2016, when concerns over the party’s democratic and human rights record arose during a period of emergency rule.