Six months after: Europeans facing the migrant crisis
In September 2015, when the migrant crisis was the focus of international headlines, the IFOP, together with the Jean-Jaurès Foundation and the FEPS, carried out a large-scale survey of European public opinion to get their view regarding this major challenge. At that time, we did our work in seven countries: France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark. Over the ensuing six months, many initiatives were taken.
The problem remains, nonetheless, in its entirety. Whereas the European authorities were counting on winter weather conditions to make navigation more difficult between the Turkish coast and Greek islands, the flow of migrants did not let up, far from it. In fact, more than 100,000 people arrived in Greece and Italy in January and February alone. This is a significantly greater number than during the same period in 2015, when it wasn’t until July that the number of arrivals reached 100,000. The continuing massive arrivals (on average, 2,000 new migrants are registered each day in Greece) are placing very substantial pressure on European governments. Since last September, gradually, several countries have enacted border controls or even closings along the Balkan route linking the Greek islands, gateway to Europe, to Germany which is the destination sought by most migrants. Recent months also saw very complex and tense negotiations among European partners and also between the European Union and Turkey. At the same time these initiatives were ongoing, significant events took place that were more or less closely linked to the migrant question. The Paris attacks come to mind as well as the international police investigation which revealed not only the involvement of jihadists, who had infiltrated Europe though the migrant flow, but also the scale of their networks in Europe. Events in Cologne on New Year’s Eve also come to mind, as well as the deterioration of the situation in Greece, where tens of thousands of migrants are stranded due to the closure of borders in countries such as Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia. We also mention the tension in the region of Calais around the “jungle”.
Considering these events, furthermore, at a time when governments are highly divided about the draft agreement between the European Union and Turkey (brokered by the German Chancellor and the President of Turkey) and while the migrant issue is exerting ever growing pressure on European cohesion, the Jean Jaurès Foundation and the FEPS wanted to have available an updated overview of European opinion. This is why, six months after the first poll, the IFOP carried out a new survey in three countries: France, Germany and Italy.