Both the European Union (EU) and individual member states implemented measures to handle the complex issue of immigration and try to reduce migration flows of non-EU citizens to Europe. The role the EU plays in handling immigration has quickly become a highly-contested subject in the public opinions of different EU member states. Do Europeans approve or disapprove policies the EU implemented to manage immigration?
The first figure shows the degree of approval of the so-called EU quota plan, approved in 2015 by EU interior ministers, which aims to relocate a huge number of refugees across the continent over the next years. Data was taken from the 2018 wave of Project 28, a public opinion survey that the Századvég Foundation has been conducting in 28 EU member states since 2016. On average, almost one European in two (47%) approves of the EU quota plan, while 39% of them do not agree with it (14% didn’t express their opinion). However, distributions in single member states highlight relevant cross-country differences. One the one hand, western and southern (Greece and Italy in particular) European member states show high levels of approval of the EU quota plan, on the other hand, citizens of central and eastern European countries (e.g. Visegrad group) strongly disapprove the plan.
The second bar chart indicates how Europeans evaluate the agreement between the EU and Turkey to stop the migration of refugees from Syria and Middle Eastern countries. In contrast to the EU quota plan, the absolute majority (51%) of European respondents disapproves this agreement, while 36% of them express a positive view on it and the remaining 13% did not answer. Again, data show important cross-country differences but along a different pattern than what emerged in the previous figure. While public opinions in countries located on the so-called Balkan route (e.g. Greece, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary) are highly in favour of the EU-Turkey agreement, citizens of western European countries, such as Austria, Germany and Belgium, strongly disapprove the agreement. Unfortunately, Project 28 has not investigated what motivations drive this choice, but it is plausible that the authoritarian leanings of the current Turkish government play an important role.
Photo Credits CC Flickr: glasseyes view