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EU most divided in world on acceptance of migrants

Staff Writer | September 6, 2017
While France, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed last week on a plan to stem migration across the Mediterranean, the European Union as a whole still lacks a common migration policy.
Against immigrants
Immigrants   Migrant Acceptance Index
Finding a policy that everyone - particularly the public - can accept will likely continue to prove elusive in the near term: No other region of the world is more divided on Gallup's new Migrant Acceptance Index than the EU, where scores range from a high of 7.92 in Sweden to a low of 1.69 in Hungary.

Gallup created the Migrant Acceptance Index to gauge people's acceptance of migrants based on increasing degrees of personal proximity. The index is based on three questions that Gallup asked in 139 countries.

The questions ask whether people think immigrants living in their country, becoming their neighbor and marrying into their families are good things or bad things. The higher the score, the more accepting the population is of migrants.

With a Migrant Acceptance Index score of 5.92 (out of a possible 9), the European Union as a whole scores just slightly higher than the global average (5.29). But within the region, the scores largely follow an East-West divide.

Along with Hungary, other Eastern European countries such as Slovakia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Estonia and Croatia are among the 10 least-accepting countries in the world. Sweden and Ireland are the two EU member countries among the 10 most-accepting countries.

Expanding this list to include the 20 most-accepting and 20 least-accepting countries, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain join Sweden and Ireland, and Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania join their counterparts in Central and Eastern Europe.

Top EU countries of destination for migrants, such as Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy fall lower in the rankings, but all of them score above the EU average.

The divide between EU countries in Central and Eastern Europe and those in Western Europe illustrates the chasm that exists in public attitudes toward migrants within the EU and the struggle it faces to create a cohesive policy: The index score for EU countries in Western Europe is 6.73, compared with 2.77 for EU countries in Central and Eastern Europe.