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Mar 28, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

What you won’t hear from European politicians

More than three quarters of EU citizens are worried about illegal immigration in their countries, and 78 percent believe that the external borders of Europe should be better protected, according to an EU-wide survey conducted by the Századvég Foundation.

The poll offers a compelling look at what the EU’s citizens really think about one of the most important issues affecting life in today’s Europe. As the latest survey in the Századvég Foundation’s Project 28, the February poll sampled one thousand adult citizens from each of the 28 EU countries, altogether 28 001 respondents, randomly selected with the CATI method, asking them questions on migration and terrorism, the EU, and globalization. As the results show, large majorities are concerned about illegal immigration and border security.

A sweeping 78 percent worry about illegal immigration in their countries. Even in France and Germany, a majority of respondents considers it a “very serious” threat, and more than three quarters see it at least as a “somewhat serious” threat.  The perception of migration has also changed, as more and more people believe that most migrants are attracted to Europe by pull factors such as the EU’s economy and social benefits.

It’s “striking,” writes Douglas Murray in an article in The Spectator on the polls findings, that in a European Union divided on so many issues, “there is such extraordinary unanimity around the question of immigration,” borders and security.

People also express concern about the consequences of migration, be it economic repercussions, crime, or terrorism. Seventy-three percent of respondents fear serious financial burdens for the receiving countries and a setback for the EU’s economy. More than 80 percent of participants say that their country faces a real terror threat, and 62 percent think that immigrants bring an increase in crime. In a related finding, a study conducted by the German government and published in January found that male migrants may be responsible for more than 90 percent of a recent increase in violent crime in Germany.  It’s odd that in a supposedly liberal democracy this clear majority of public opinion often remains unspoken in Germany, and, as Murray points out, apparently remains “politically unsayable.”

A resounding 70 percent consider the rapid population growth of Muslims a serious threat to Europe and half of the European demos anticipate that life will be worse for their children. It’s noticeably higher in countries that have been at the forefront of the migration influx (e.g. Austria, Greece, Germany and others). The mandatory resettlement quota scheme, pushed relentlessly by Brussels, has lost popular support since 2016 when Project 28 was first commissioned. Two years ago, 53 percent of the European public supported the quota plan, but its current approval rate has dropped to 47 percent.

Concerning possible solutions, more than three-quarters of EU citizens believe that the external borders of Europe should be better protected, and 81 percent of EU citizens agree that assistance to migrants should be delivered to their countries of origin. George Soros’ plan to solve the migrant crisis has a poor approval rating: only 14 percent of the European public thinks that the EU should accept a million asylum seekers a year and only nine percent think that nothing should limit immigration to Europe. In spite of that, almost half of the respondents would urge the EU to provide “substantial financial support” to the countries where they are currently residing.

More than half of the European public is convinced that the countries of central and eastern Europe handled the migration crisis better than Brussels. Our secret? In the case of Hungary, the Orbán Government has turned to the people for their opinions on immigration and the Soros plan and took measures accordingly. Instead of insisting on mandatory quotas – and applying political pressure on Visegrád Four countries that have taken positions representing their citizens – European politicians and Brussels bureaucrats would be better off listening to the people of Europe.

Because in a democracy, that’s what leaders do. They listen to the people and are elected to serve the popular will. Reading today’s mainstream media, one could be easily led to believe that EU citizens generally have no reservations about migration, that they do not worry about terror threats or the connection between mass migration and security, and most of them support mandatory migrant quotas, which Brussels and Berlin promote.

Not so. As public opinion surveys show, the citizens of Europe see things quite differently.