Brussels Nearly three quarters of the Czech population could not care less about what is taking place outside of their country. Or so they say, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey.
When asked whether they follow what is happening in the countries that are not members of the European Union but have close contacts with the bloc, 73 per cent replied in the negative.
Similar levels of apathy can be found in Lithuania and Poland. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Cyprus with 66 per cent of people there saying they do care, followed by Greece and France.
Somewhat paradoxically, Czechs on average hold very positive view of the European Union´s neighborhood policy with 73 per cent of those asked expressing belief that supporting the neighboring countries will result in bigger prosperity inside the EU.
|What Europeans think of their neighbors|
|I follow what is happening in the countries neighboring with the EU||27||73||31||69||47||53||30||70||44||56|
|Supporting the neighboring countries is too expensive||89||11||82||18||91||9||80||20||79||21|
|The figures show percentage. The survey was conducted in May and June 2007 in all 27 EU member countries. Source: Eurobarometer|
Germans, as the survey shows, think otherwise. Majority of them (57 per cent) does not believe it pays off to invest in the neighboring countries.
Once again contradicting themselves, the Czechs agree with the Germans when it comes to assessing the costs of the EU programs aimed at the neighboring countries. Too expensive, is their resounding verdict.
"We can only win"
The European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner believes the European Neighbourhood Policy can only score positive points.
"Both sides win. By helping our closest neighbors achieve prosperity and stability, we are making Europe a better place to live," she said.
Ministers of foreign affairs of the EU members states are debating the future of the European Neighbourhood Policy this week in Brussels.
Among other things, they have to agree on how to best divide the 12 billion euro budget, which has been set aside for helping countries covered by the program. They include Azerbaijan, Palestine, Egypt and 13 other states.