Back on track, but still struggling – this general conclusion can be drawn from the latest Eurobarometer, a public opinion poll conducted twice a year in the European Union to survey public opinion on a number of topics, ranging from people’s general views of the EU to specific policy areas such as migration, trade and energy.
Ten years ago, the political geography of Europe changed when ten countries mostly from Central and Eastern Europe joined the European Union. Then Bulgaria, Romania, and eventually Croatia followed, thereby creating the largest single market and the biggest area of freedom of movement in the world. However, after the initial EUphoria, the “new” members soon faced the reality of the stark discrepancy between them in their ability to keep up with the integration-stride of the “older” kids. The recent crisis in particular has not only left some newbies vulnerable in the economic department, but allowed populists and eurosceptics to dominate the domestic discourse on European affairs. Yavor Aleksiev, Economist at the Institute for Market Economic (Bulgaria), Csaba Tóth, Director of Strategy at the Republikon Institute (Hungary) and Błažej Lenkowski, President of Fundacja Industrial (Poland) discussed whether the biggest enlargement in EU history has meet the expectations of the new members and what the greatest challenges are for liberals with regards to the upcoming European Parliament elections. Continue reading