The continuing debate about Bulgaria’s and Romania’s joining the Schengen Area, the accession of Croatia, and the enlargement negotiations with all of the rest of the region of Southeastern Europe (SEE) has sparked intense debate in the EU media on EU enlargement as a whole, and in SEE in particular. Although fears about internal migration and exploitation and pressure on the old-EU members’ welfare systems have been repeatedly proven as wrong, popular discontent with newcomers aided by media and populist politics has resulted in the freeze of further EU enlargement in SEE for the term of the 2014 – 2020 Commission. Provided serious concerns about the quality of rule of law in SEE, the lack of trust in enlargement seems at least partially founded in the lack of progress in tackling corruption in the region.
The policy brief presents analysis of 320 media articles on the topic. The chosen media outlets are some of the most influential in the German-speaking area, which makes the findings particularly interesting and relevant to policy-makers in the EU, and in SEE. The time frame of the media content analysis covers 2012 and 2013, which presumably influenced EU elections and policy-making developments in 2014 – 2015.