Refugee crisis tops list of concerns for EU citizens

76% of Germans think immigration is the most important issue facing the EU. [Maik Meid/Flickr]

European citizens see the migration crisis as the biggest threat to the EU, ahead of the threat of terrorism, a recent survey has found. Climate change has been pushed to the bottom of the pile. EURACTIV France reports.

The migration crisis has become the main subject of concern for over half of the European population, according to a Eurobarometer study published on Monday (29 February).

The poll carried out across the European Union and EU candidate countries in November 2015 placed the question of immigration far ahead of all other areas of concern, like terrorism or the economy.

Poll: Majority of Germans reject immigration from outside the EU

Germans see immigration as the EU’s most important current challenge, while a majority are opposed to immigrants from outside the bloc. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Across all countries, 58% of respondents to the survey ranked immigration among the top two problems for the EU. In Estonia 79% of respondents said immigration was among the EU’s most important problems. Close behind were Denmark, Germany and the Czech Republic, with 76%.

In France half of all respondents (49%) stated immigration as the number one concern for the UE, up 15 points from the previous survey in spring 2015.

Terrorism in second position

Since the terrorist attacks in France in January 2015, terrorism has become perceived in the country as the second most important threat to the European Union.

Most of the data for the latest Eurobarometer survey was collected before the terrorist attacks in November 2015, but terrorism was still cited by 27% of respondents as among their two most serious concerns; up eight percentage points on the previous year.

The economy and unemployment were each cited by 22% of French respondents as the most important issues facing the EU. But on a national level, unemployment is the issue of gravest concern for the French (54%).

Confidence in the EU on the rise

Citizens’ confidence in the European Union has grown since the European elections in May 2014. The uncertain economic situation and immigration are among the main issues still causing concern for the electorate. EURACTIV France reports

Despite the success of the COP21 last December and the publicity this generated, climate change (6%), the environment (5%) and energy supply (3%) are among the least urgent issues for citizens across the EU.

Expectation of common solution

Most Europeans (68%) are in favour of a common European solution to the migration crisis, with around one quarter (24%) opposed to it. The French are slightly more sceptical than the European average, with 64% in favour and 27% against a coordinated European response.

The divides between different sections of society are also note-worthy. 92% of French respondents who identified as ‘upper class’ supported a European response, against only 35% of the ‘working class’. Support for European action was also far stronger among France’s left-wing voters (81%) than its right-wing voters (58%).

Two weights, two measures

Attitudes towards immigration appear to be strongly conditioned by the origin of the migrants. 51% of French citizens see internal EU migration in a positive light, compared to just 30% for non-EU migration.

European Commission

Subscribe to our newsletters