Three years after an estimated 1.3 million people sought asylum in Europe, immigration remains a polarizing issue that has reshaped the political landscape across the continent. It’s almost certain to dominate the agenda at a meeting of European Union leaders that begins Wednesday in Salzburg, Vienna: Immigration policy is a priority for Sebastian Kurz, the conservative chancellor of Austria whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, as well as for his coalition allies from the far-right Freedom Party.
But the political consequences of the surge of immigrants in 2015—the rise of far-right, anti-immigrant parties—may belie a more sympathetic view of refugees, as well as more critical opinions of how the EU handled the crisis. A new survey from the Pew Research Center released Wednesday says a majority of people in several EU countries support accepting refugees fleeing violence, but large majorities in those countries also say they strongly disapprove of the manner in which the EU handled the crisis in 2015.
The survey was conducted in 10 of the 28 EU member states, including France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It found strong majorities in favor of accepting refugees fleeing violence in seven of the 10 countries surveyed. In Germany, 82 percent of those surveyed said they would support taking more refugees; in Sweden, 81 percent said they would support such a measure. The survey also found a smaller majority in favor of refugees fleeing violence in Italy, where 56 percent said they supported taking more refugees.