IRI Polling Shows Strong support for EU accession in Ukraine and Moldova

  • Ben Thompson

The European Union’s recent decision to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova marks an important milestone in each of these countries’ journey towards EU membership. While the leaders of each of these countries have celebrated the EU’s decision, IRI’s public opinion data indicates that the decision will enjoy broad public support, given that clear majorities in both countries favor EU accession. 


IRI has polled on Ukrainians’ preference for joining the EU as far back as 2012.  This polling has framed the question on EU accession in the context of joining a specific economic union which might be the EU, the Customs Union (with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan), or something else. Over the course of this polling, Ukrainians’ preference for the EU has trended upwards. However, the largest movements in this trend corresponded with the two Russian invasions of Ukraine; first Russia’s February/March 2014 invasion of Crimea, and then Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The 2014 invasion corresponded with an 11-point increase in the preference for EU membership, and the 2022 invasion corresponded with a 22-point increase in the preference for EU membership. 

As of IRI’s most recent poll of Ukraine in September 2023, the preference for EU membership stood at 81%. The preference for EU membership over other possible economic unions appears overriding in Ukrainian society; it is the clearly dominant preference across age groups, men and women, urban and rural residence, and across regions. The preference for EU membership is highest in Western Ukraine (84%), however it is also dominant in all other regions, including in the East (72%).1 


In Moldova, IRI has measured support for EU membership in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Across these three polls, a clear majority have consistently asserted support for joining the EU. Support for EU membership has been very stable over this period, with each of the polls reporting between 63-64% support (strongly or somewhat) for EU membership, with 63% expressing support in July 2023. 

As of IRI’s July 2023 poll, support for joining the EU appears strong across most segments of Moldovan society. It is consistently dominant across all age groups and across men and women. Support appears higher in Chisinau (69%), as well as in Moldova’s Northern (60%) and Center (72%) regions. Support is lower in Moldova’s South, although 50% still support EU membership. 


While the process for EU accession is long, the formal start of this process is surely welcome news for most Ukrainians and Moldovans. IRI’s public opinion data indicates that clear majorities in both countries favor the path of greater European integration through EU accession. In Ukraine, IRI’s polling shows that this majority has grown dramatically over the past 11 years – and the two Russian invasions of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022 appear directly related to this trend. In Moldova, IRI’s data indicates that a stable majority favors accession. In both countries, a preference for EU membership is broad and appears consistent across most segments of society.

[1] Western Ukraine: Volyn, Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Rivne, Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, Chernivtsi. Eastern Ukraine: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv.

Up ArrowTop