It seems that initially EU membership was met with a dose of realism (or skepticism), which was followed by a period of positive experience and higher esteem and only after that rise in negative attitudes was registered. This is a trend from the comparative analysis of the series of sociological studies conducted over the past 10 years by the Open Society Institute – Sofia.
The data, summarized by the Director of the European Policy Programme at the OSI Marin Lessenski, show that the increase in disapproval towards the EU is largely determined by external factors (such as the economic crisis, the 2015 refugee crisis or the ongoing debate on Brexit).
Trust towards European and Bulgarian institutions varied through the years, but in general trust in EU institutions stayed three times higher than the trust in Bulgarian institutions. There is a worrisome trend of increased distrust as in Bulgarian as well as in European institutions, which reached 20% of the respondents.
In regard to other mechanisms of further integration into the EU, support to changing the national currency the lev for the euro decreased twofold between 2011 and 2015, but the trust towards the currency board with the lev pegged to the euro remained high. Support to Schengen membership started from a high level, but started to fell gradually even before the refugee crisis of 2015. In both cases – Eurozone and Schengen, Bulgaria’s own unpreparedness was among the cited reasons to disagree with those policies.
Full text of the analysis 10 Years in the EU: Public Opinion and Bulgaria’s Membership in the EU.
The used data is from public opinion surveys, conducted by the Open Society Institute – Sofia in the period 2008 2016. From the beginning of 2008, OSI-Sofia follows public opinion and social attitudes in Bulgaria through regularly conducted standardized surveys with nationally representative samples among the adult population of the country. The surveys are “omnibus” type and include different topics. In any case, whenever possible the questionnaires included the same questions so that ensure compatibility of data from different surveys and to follow trends in public attitudes.