Before the British referendum: Trust in the EU in Bulgaria at its lowest since accession, but Bulgarians remain pro-European. At the eve of the British referendum, trust in the EU among Bulgarians remains high, but it seems that this trust is at its lowest point since accession in 2007. At the same time Bulgarians do not expect that the result of the British referendum, whatever it may be, could affect their lives.
These are the results of the opinion poll made by ‘Gallup-international’ in June. ‘Gallup international Balkan’ is measuring the trust in the EU on a monthly basis since the year 2000.
In June 2016 48% say they have trust, whereas 38% do not have trust in the EU. 14% of respondents cannot decide. The percentage of people that trusted the EU until a few months were bigger with 60% trust and lack of trust rarely exceeding 30%.
Traditionally the image of the EU remains very positive compared to the general lack of trust in Bulgarian institutions. However, the data for June shows that even the trust in the EU can be hurt considering the many challenges the EU faces.
In the late autumn of 2011, when the economic crisis in Greece was just starting, the image of the EU also suffered with a lower percentage of trust but it was a short-term tendency.
Two competing reasons for the falling of trust in the EU can be outlined. One is the short-term tendencies of crisis and the second is the long-term process of EU integration.
Process of disintegration of the EU, the immigration crisis, terrorism, the rise of populism etc. Possible factors that may have contributed to the lower trust may be the information war between the Western countries and Russia as well as the lack of united EU response towards the many crises.
All of the above could be erected with a negative result on the EU referendum that would give a positive signal on EU authority.
Other than the current (short-term factor) EU crisis Bulgarians do not look at the EU as an ideal as they used to, but look at the details of its functioning. This is a normal process that leads to a wear of the EU as an authoritative player.
Low interest in the topic
The interest towards the topic is relatively low. During the first weeks of June, 2/3rds of respondents think that the result from the referendum will not affect their lives. Only 1/10th think that the decision from the referendum will affect their lives. The answers on these questions show only general acquaintance on the topic. We expect that interest on what is happening in the UK will increase with the coming of the referendum.
Despite this Bulgaria remains among the one of the most pro-European countries in the EU. This is confirmed by a previous study conducted a year ago. You can find the link to it here.