Turks Show Waning Interest in Joining EU, Survey Shows

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Turkish eagerness to join the European Union is plummeting as the economy outgrows Europe’s and the country emerges as a regional power-broker, a survey showed.

Only 38 percent of Turks regard future EU membership as a “good thing,” down from 48 percent last year and 73 percent in 2004, according to a poll released today by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Italian foundation Compagnia di San Paolo.

A 150 percent increase in gross domestic product per capita since 2003 has lessened Turkey’s need for European links and emboldened it to pursue a more independent foreign policy.

A dominant strand in Turkish thinking is that “we really don’t need these guys in Europe as much as we thought we did,” said Bruce Stokes, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington.

Opposition from leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy has limited Turkey’s progress toward joining the EU since starting entry talks in 2005. The poll showed only 23 percent of Europeans want Turkey in, compared with 20 percent a year ago.

The annual survey of 13,000 people was conducted in 11 EU countries, Turkey and the U.S. between June 1 and June 29. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at jneuger@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net