The Polls—Trends: Trends in Public Opinion toward Immigration among EU Member States


This article presents trends in public opinion toward immigration in the European Union (EU), between 2002 and 2018. Immigration is a salient and contentious issue in contemporary politics across Europe and is used by Eurosceptic parties in both government and opposition to mobilize support. Public opinion data—drawn from the European Social Survey and the Eurobarometer—reveals the following noteworthy trends over the past two decades. First, positive public attitudes toward immigration have increased across member states, with a temporary setback in 2015–16. Second, immigration is a divisive issue throughout the EU. While public opinion in some regions generally favors immigration, opinion is divided everywhere. Third, despite regional variations between northern, western, and southern Europe, EU-wide trends suggest the emergence of a collective public opinion, crossing national borders. Fourth, despite vocal political opposition to immigration, solid majorities of the public view immigration favorably over time and across regions. To the numerous studies of European public opinion on immigration, this article contributes a useful overview of the long-term trends, with regional and EU-wide presentation and data visualization.

Public Opinion Quarterly, Volume 86, Issue 1, Spring 2022, Pages 191–215, doi: 10.1093/poq/nfac001