Strict but fair?

Dutch views on Turkish accession
(2004 - 2005 Eurobarometer surveys)

The events of 11 September 2001, the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch Moroccan extremist in late 2004, and the discovery of extremist Islamist networks in the Netherlands have all contributed to the current debate on Islam in the Netherlands. The rejection of the EU constitution in the Dutch referendum on 1 June 2005 also raised questions about the level of support for European integration by the Dutch public.

So far, however, neither the debate on Islam nor the new debate on the EU have undermined Dutch support for EU enlargement and Turkish accession. The key findings of this analysis, carried out by ESI and based on Eurobarometer surveys done in 2004 and 2005, are the following:

  • A relative majority of Dutch citizens (48%) is in favor of further EU enlargement. Support of EU enlargement among young Dutch citizens (59%) is significantly above the Dutch average.
  • Dutch support for Turkey's EU accession is 41%, significantly above the EU average (31%), ranking the Netherlands fourth among all EU member states. The strongest support for Turkish EU accession comes from young Dutch citizens.
  • Dutch opposition to enlargement and Turkey's accession played a minor role in rejecting the EU constitution. Only 3% of all "No"-voters mention Turkey as one of their reasons to vote against the EU constitution. Opposition to enlargement is mentioned by 6% of all "No"-voters. Lack of information is considered as the main reason for rejecting the constitution (mentioned by 32% of all "No"-voters).

Attitudes towards Turkey's accession

Attitudes towards Turkey's accession

With 41% in favor of Turkey's accession to the European Union, the Netherlands are one of the strongest supporters of Turkey's EU accession. They rank forth among all EU member states and second among the "old" member states. Only Slovenia (49%), Sweden (48%) and Poland (42%) show greater support.

Hungary demonstrates the same support level as the Netherlands, followed by Spain and Portugal (both 40%). The weakest support comes from Austria (11%), Cyprus (16%) and Luxemburg (19%).

The Netherlands are one of only three countries that have seen a rise in support for Turkey's EU accession (2 percent) since spring 2005. The same is true for Denmark (3 percent) and Austria (1 percent).

On average support for Turkey has decreased by 4 percent among EU member states. Lithuania (-15 percent) and Poland (-12 percent) have seen the strongest relative decline in support since spring 2005.

Download the full analysis in PDF format

Turkey Debate in the Netherlands