2- The current state of migration to Europe

Wednesday 16 October 2019

2- The current state of migration to Europe


Between 2015 and 2018, according to figures published by Eurostat, around 4 million people applied for asylum in a Member State of the European Union.[1] Since not every newly arriving individual applies for asylum, it is estimated that in 2015 alone, more than two million people were counted as “illegally present”, a figure that has decreased again to 600,000 in 2018.[2]

The vast majority of these recently arrived migrants – please see below in Chapter 2 the different terms and categories that are used in order to relate to this heterogeneous social group – will not be in a position to relocate to their country of origin in the near future. To EU Member States who have welcomed significant numbers of individuals, these continuous arrivals of human beings represent an enormous logistical and financial challenge. But beyond such material issues, the situation also raises questions around the social integration of these new, temporary or permanent, inhabitants.

For national governments and European policy-makers, the engagement of civil society in favour of the integration of migrants is indispensable. As a recent Eurobarometer survey confirmed, attitudes vary widely across the 28 Member States. The overall results confirm that some attitudes remain problematic:

  • Europeans tend to largely overestimate the number of non-EU immigrants as a proportion of the population of their country – which is not without effect on general attitudes.
  • Around four in ten Europeans think that immigration is more a problem than an opportunity, but this varies significantly by country: figures oscillate between 63% in Hungary, 38% in France (EU average) and 19% in Sweden.
  • Just over half (54%) of Europeans agree that the integration of immigrants has been a success in their local area, city or country, but again, this figure varies widely between member-states: from 80% in Ireland to 50% in Germany, 40% in Italy, and only 26% in Bulgaria.

On the other hand, the same survey also highlights some rather positive attitudes towards migration: over 50% of Europeans feel comfortable with immigrants, and around six in ten of respondents interact with them on a weekly basis, while nearly seven in ten Europeans say that integrating immigrants is a necessary investment in the long-run for their country.[3]

The survey also showed what citizens identified as the most important barriers to the successful integration of migrants. Among these, the insufficient integration efforts by immigrants themselves (65%) were closely followed by difficulties in finding a job (63%), discrimination against immigrants (62%), limited interactions with local citizens (53%), as well as the negative portrayal of immigrants in the media (53%), and limited access to education.