Europeans overwhelmingly against immigration

28th of November 2011
Europeans overwhelmingly against immigration

An international survey of 23 countries by Ipsos has found opposition to immigration in numerous countries across the world, with majorities often considering its effects to be negative and its scale excessive. European nations were typical of this trend.

Majorities in countries as diverse as Germany, South Africa, Russia, Turkey and the United States were found to consider immigration to have a "very or fairly negative impact".

Anti-immigration sentiment was particularly strong in Europe, with over 65 per cent of Spaniards, Italians and British polled strongly or partly agreeing that "there are too many immigrants in our country".

Sweden and Poland were the only European countries surveyed that did not have majorities who considered immigration to have a negative impact. In no country did a majority consider immigration to have been beneficial.

Majorities in most EU countries surveyed agreed that immigration had made it more difficult for citizens to find employment and "placed too much pressure on public services," such as health care and education.

Anti-immigrant sentiment has put significant strain on freedom of movement within the EU. In August, the European Commission approved Spain's measures to exclude Romanian workers from its labour market. The Spanish unemployment rate is by far the highest in the EU at 21 per cent.

The Dutch and Danish governments, whose parliamentary majorities are dependent on the support of far-right anti-immigrant parties, have pushed particularly hard to limit immigration. In the case of Denmark, the unilateral imposition of new border controls was harshly criticised by the European Commission and Germany.

While anti-immigration sentiment, according to the poll, is broadly shared across Europe, there are significant national differences. The number of foreigners in some countries, particularly Belgium, France and Germany, has grown relatively slowly over the past decade or has even declined.

Other countries, often traditionally lands of emigration, have seen spectacular increases in foreign residents. According to Eurostat, between 1999 and 2010 their numbers increased from 1.2 million to 4.2 million in Italy, from less than 120,000 to 420,000 in Ireland, and from 650,000 to 5.7 million in Spain.



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