14:42 GMT27 May 2020
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    Only 20 percent of Danes say they support further EU enlargement; researchers have attributed this reluctance to the EU's past expansions in the Balkans, which have been deemed problematic.

    According to the Danish Values Survey, conducted by Statistics Denmark for Aalborg University, nearly half of Danes (46 percent) oppose the EU's further expansion, Danish Radio reported.

    20 percent of those surveyed said that the enlargement process already has "gone too far", as the EU has expanded seven times since its inception, most recently in 2013 when Croatia was ushered in.

    By contrast, only 20 percent of Danes said they were in favour of any more expansion.

    Peter Nedergaard, a professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen, has linked the negative attitude with the EU's recent "acquisitions" in the Balkans such as Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

    "[The recent enlargements] have resulted in a bigger EU and lent more stability to the Balkans, but free movement has not always been entirely positive, for example, when it comes to Romania," Nedergaard explained to Danish Radio. "Many Romanians do well, but there are also some who don't. For instance, there are stories about gangs of thieves who burgle and then return home. It's unlikely that people fear adding Iceland or Norway, but rather more of the Balkan countries or Turkey."

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    According to Jan Jørgensen, the EU spokesman for Denmark's ruling liberal-conservative Venstre party, popular fears of Turkey joining were understandable, as the country didn't meet the EU's demands. By contrast, he said he would have supported the desire of Norway or Switzerland to join the EU.

    Social Liberals EU rapporteur Sofie Carsten Nielsen argued that the time is not ripe for another EU extension, suggesting that Brussels already had a hard time keeping some of the "unruly" members, such as Poland and Hungary, in check. Since joining the EU in 2004, the two countries have found themselves on a collision course with Brussels over issues such as immigration.

    The right-wing Danish People's Party (DF) doesn't believe in EU expansion either.

    "The countries that seek to join the EU, for instance in the West Balkans, are close to financial bankruptcy, and they are going to be expensive for the EU", DF EU rapporteur Kenneth Kristensen Berth said.

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    Since being founded in 1952 by France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, West Germany and Luxembourg, the EU has experienced expansion seven times and currently numbers 28 member states.

    Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are all candidate countries. Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova have all signed Association Agreements with the EU.


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