Despite being bombarded with headlines about the “migrant crisis” facing Europe, little is really known about how European citizens perceive and experience migration in their daily lives. As part of our ongoing research we’ve found that rather than linking “irregular” migration with fears of terrorism, EU citizens have a more nuanced position on border security. The people we’ve interviewed rejected both border walls and open borders as political solutions to the issue of migration into Europe.
Tougher border security has been a key pillar of the way the EU has responded to the increase in migration since 2015. But our findings contradict the European Commission’s argument that there is a “powerful consensus” among EU institutions and public opinion on the need to enhance border security in response to irregular migration.
The results also question the findings of a 2015 Eurobarometer survey, polling around 27,000 people, which found that in 25 member states, the majority of attitudes towards migration were negative. It also reported that 90% of all EU citizens interviewed said additional border security measures were needed to fight irregular immigration.