Latvians becoming more Euroskeptic

  • 2007-08-01
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon
RIGA - A recent Euroborometer survey has found that Latvians are quickly becoming more skeptical of the EU, and are now one of the most euroskeptic nations in the bloc.
The survey, which was released July 30, was based on responses of 1,013 Latvians interviewed between April 14 and May 15.

The number of respondents who thought that membership in the European Union is a good thing 's a staggeringly low 37 percent 's is the lowest in the EU27. The result does not necessarily mean that Latvians feel the EU is a bad thing, however, as nearly half of the respondents expressed ambivalence toward the bloc.
Moreover, the survey ranked Latvians as the third least trusting of EU institutions, at 47 percent, only slightly higher than the UK and Austria and significantly lower than in the other two Baltic states.

Of the 11 new member states who have not already joined the eurozone, Latvians also expressed the least support 's 47 percent 's for adopting the common currency. Only 14 percent of respondents felt that the euro is important to them personally, a full 25 percentage points lower than the EU27 average.
The survey's analysts claim that the extreme euroskepticism in Latvia is due to a rocky domestic situation. "Latvian respondents' attitude to the EU became more negative reflecting dissatisfaction with Latvian domestic issues," the survey reads.

The level of satisfaction with life in Latvia is one of the lowest in the EU.
A series of recent government scandals have also shaken Latvians' trust in their government and parliament. In the half year following both the previous survey and the parliamentary elections, trust in the national government has plummeted 12 points to a mere 20 percent 's less than half the EU average. Trust in Parliament is even lower, with 18 percent of respondents expressing their trust in the institution. Of those who expressed trust in Parliament in the previous survey, 25 percent have since lost that trust.

Despite these bad tidings, however, the survey did find some hopeful trends among Latvian citizens. Latvians ranked alongside residents of the UK as the most optimistic that their personal life would improve in the future, with 48 percent of respondents affirming the belief. Latvia was also 9 percentage points higher than the EU average in their belief that their household financial and personal financial situation would improve.
The overall trend is clear: Latvians are rapidly becoming less enthusiastic about the European Union. "The increasingly optimistic trends in Latvia shown in the last few surveys are not apparent in the latest survey," its authors report.