European Opinions on Migration and EU Future

Politics - May 5, 2024

The survey was carried out online using the CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview) methodology.

In the period between 28 March and 8 April 2024, interviews were collected on a sample of 5000 adult individuals from the European Union, divided into the five main areas of Germany, France, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe and of the South, with separate data recorded in Italy and Spain. For each country, proportional quotas were set for the age and gender of the survey participants and calculated based on the most recent parameters provided by Eurostat.


Analysis of the Survey Related to Decision-Making Power on Migratory Flows

The survey relating to the policies for controlling migratory flows recorded a profound fracture with clear divergences among European citizens. The survey, which asked respondents whether immigration control policies should be decided more by the European Commission or by individual member states, highlights contrasting preferences within different electoral groups, in particular among those affiliated with the Conservative party and European Reformists (ECR).

In the interviews, individuals taken as a sample were asked who, in their opinion, should have more decision-making power in choices relating to migration policies and, 41% of those interviewed said they were in favor of greater control by the European Commission, while 40% would prefer that the States themselves deal with it directly, without interference, compared to 19% who do not know the topic well enough to be able to answer comprehensively. The figure that marks the greatest fracture is that which sees 58% of voters among the European Conservatives wanting policies on migratory flows to be managed by individual Member States, in stark contrast to the percentage of the total number of interviewees.

The majority of those interviewed, belonging to different political factions and coming above all from Italy and Spain (nations that have always been affected by the phenomenon of uncontrolled migration and often lack the means necessary to manage it independently), highlight the desire for a coordinated and supranational approach to address the age-old migration issues without fragmented interventions and with centralized control. The majority of conservatives, however, coming from different European geographical areas, would prefer to entrust the decisions relating to migratory flows to the Government of the Member State concerned for greater internal coordination and for responses that can better adapt to the needs of individual states.


Analysis of the survey on Decision-making Power and the Relationship between the European Union and Member States

In the survey, respondents were asked to choose between attributing more powers to the European Union by taking them away from the Member States, or attributing less to the European Union and returning them to the Member States, with the possibility of also choosing the neutral option and the one that highlights the desire to maintain the current state of affairs.

The survey presents a dramatic picture of wavering trust in the European Union (EU), with the overall majority of respondents, 37% expressing a desire for decision-making powers to be more firmly in the hands of member states, 25% saying would like power to increase for the European Union to the detriment of the Member States and the 17% who would instead like things to remain exactly as they are. In this case, the opinion of all those interviewed remains the same even in the internal count among conservative voters with 63% in agreement with the total majority and 22% against the increase in the power of the Member States.

This harmony between those interviewed, even from different political factions, highlights a growing distrust towards the European Union and an increasingly clear desire for decision-making independence on the part of Europeans in relation to national interests. The preference for greater sovereignty at the national level reflects concerns about democratic accountability, cultural identity and the perceived erosion of national autonomy within the EU framework.

For the European Union, addressing such an erosion of trust requires a delicate balance. While greater centralization of power in some areas, such as economic policy coordination and external affairs, can bring benefits, ignoring member states’ concerns risks exacerbating existing divisions and undermining the EU’s legitimacy. At the same time, satisfying the desire for greater decision-making powers at the national level without jeopardizing the integrity of the EU’s legal and institutional framework presents a number of challenges that are probably too difficult to overcome. Finding the right balance between supranational cooperation and national sovereignty is essential to foster trust and solidarity between EU Member States.


Analysis of Public Opinion on the Political Composition of the New European Commission

As Europe prepares for the next European elections in June, the survey in question tries to shed light on citizens’ preferences regarding the political composition of the new European Commission. The survey reveals an intriguing dynamic, with the current majority of the European Parliament still appearing to enjoy a certain preference (40%), but with a substantial minority (28%) supporting a centre-right coalition. Naturally, the percentage of those in favor of a new entirely centre-right composition rises to 68% among voters of the European Conservative and Reformist Party. The percentages remain fairly level in all geographical areas of Europe with a high number of undecideds especially in Eastern European nations.

The survey results provide valuable information on the prevailing attitudes and preferences of European citizens regarding the political landscape at EU level. The preference for continuity, as reflected in majority support for the current majority coalition in the European Parliament, suggests a desire for stability and predictability in European politics. According to the majority, therefore, maintaining a coalition that embraces the ideological spectrum of multiple political factions will also serve to promote greater inclusion with a greater guarantee of effective governance.

In contrast, the significant minority supporting a centre-right coalition signals a divergence of opinion and potentially reflects wider changes in political sentiment within the EU. Supporters of a center-right coalition would prioritize policies aligned with values such as fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty and tougher positions on issues such as immigration and security, and this sentiment may also be indicative of a desire for change and of a reorientation of European politics that is often lacking in these matters.

The preference for continuity suggests that ruling parties and coalitions can have an advantage in the electoral arena, especially if they can effectively communicate their results and their vision for the future. However, significant minority support for a centre-right coalition highlights the importance of engaging with different political viewpoints and building broad-based coalitions to ensure legitimacy and representation at EU level. Balancing the need for continuity with the demand for change represents a delicate balancing act for political leaders, requiring skilled negotiation skills and a willingness to compromise.

The survey on the composition of the new European Commission provides valuable insights into the preferences and attitudes of European citizens as they prepare to cast their votes in the next European elections. The preference for continuity, embodied by the current majority coalition in the European Parliament, reflects a desire for stability and inclusiveness in European politics. However, the significant minority supporting a centre-right coalition signals a divergence of opinion and highlights the importance of engaging with different political perspectives to ensure effective governance and representation at EU level. As Europe embarks on this electoral journey, the survey results serve as a timely reminder of the complexities and nuances inherent in the European political landscape.


Alessandro Fiorentino