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Brussels, 10 October 2006

The European Union and its neighbours

A Eurobarometer Special Report on the European Neighbourhood Policy shows that Europeans believe that encouraging and supporting reforms in neighbouring countries will bring benefits for the EU’s neighbours in terms of economic and social development as well as good governance. They also expect that promoting stability and a favourable economic environment, as well as the mutual opening of markets, will contribute to prosperity within the EU. They see overall benefits to cooperation with neighbours, particularly working together to tackle mutual challenges such as security (tackling terrorism and organised crime), environmental protection, energy and migration.

EU citizens tend to have a positive perception of relations with neighbouring countries (68%) and to believe that cooperation with these countries will bring mutual benefits. EU citizens consider cooperation with neighbouring countries important: in fighting organised crime (90%) and terrorism (90%), in economic development (88%), energy matters (87%), environment (87%), democracy (87%), education and training (83%), research and innovation (78%) and immigration (77%).

On the highly topical issue of migration, nearly two thirds of respondents (64%) believe that close cooperation with neighbouring countries will reduce illegal immigration into the EU.

The vast majority consider that EU assistance to neighbouring countries can help to extend peace (70%) and democracy (77%) beyond the borders of the Union. There are, however, concerns (45%) that their own country’s peace and stability could be endangered by promoting reforms in neighbouring countries.

A majority of those questioned felt that economic cooperation with the neighbours would increase mutual prosperity (61%) and open new markets for both parties (75% for the EU and 64% for neighbouring countries). This is in spite of the fact that many (81%) had concerns about the potential financial costs of supporting reforms in Europe’s neighbourhood.

Most respondents (52%) feel that countries are willing to cooperate to reform, though a majority (64%) also feels that the EU should reduce its relations with a country if it shows no willingness to make progress on reforms.

The summary and full report of this opinion poll is available at

For more information on the European Neighbourhood Policy see:

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