SEPTEMBER 13 2012 20:28h
ZAGREB, Sept 13 (Hina) - Fifty-three per cent of citizens of Croatia would vote in favour of European Union membership if the referendum were held now, and 61% of those who would certainly vote would vote in favour, which is the strongest public support for EU membership since 2007, the latest survey showed on Thursday.
The survey was carried out by Ipsos Puls agency from July 20 to August 7 on a sample of 1,022 respondents older than 15 years of age, and its results were presented today by survey leader Dragan Bagic. It was the first comprehensive survey since the referendum on Croatia's EU entry was held in January, focusing on people's perception of the European Union, information about the EU, and knowledge about and interest in EU funds.
The level of trust has not changed fundamentally, the head of the EU Delegation in Croatia, Paul Vandoren, said, expressing hope that the positive trend would continue until the accession, which is scheduled for July 1 next year.
The overall feeling is that there have been no spectacular changes, the positive outcome of the referendum has been sustained, and there are certain parameters where the results have improved, Vandoren said. Of course, there could have been greater improvements, but this is the reality, he added.
The survey showed that 53% of those polled would vote in favour of EU membership and 38% would be against, while of the respondents who said they would certainly turn out for the vote 61% said they would vote in favour and 34% would be against. The strongest support so far was recorded in 2007 when EU membership was supported by 55% of all the respondents interviewed and by 64% of those who said they would certainly participate in the vote.
The crisis of trust was obvious in 2008 and 2009 when support for EU entry plunged to 46% and 44% respectively.
Support for EU membership among young people aged 15-29 is slightly below the average. In that group, the strongest support was recorded among secondary school students (75%), while those older were more sceptical.
Most respondents, 64%, believe that the Croatian economy is not ready for the EU; 45% think that the judicial reform has changed nothing, as opposed to 39% who believe that it has been effective.
Forty-four per cent of respondents have a positive perception of the EU, while 28% of them have a negative perception. As regards trust in institutions, 20% have greater trust in domestic institutions and 34% in EU institutions.
Despite the information campaigns, as few as 15% of citizens said they felt well-informed about the EU, while 40% said they were insufficiently informed. However, only 25% of them said they were actively looking for the information they needed, mainly relying on the Internet