People in Germany rally in support of refugees, September 17, 2018
People in Germany rally in support of refugees, September 17, 2018

A majority of Europeans favor taking in refugees, but there is discontent with the way the European Union has handled the issue since 2015, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

Three years after more than a million migrants sought asylum in Europe, a majority of people in several European countries still say they support taking in refugees who are fleeing violence and war. However, most people do not approve of the way the EU has dealt with the refugee issue.

The Pew survey, conducted between May and July of this year, shows that three quarters or more of adults in Spain, the Netherlands, France and the UK support taking in refugees from countries where people are fleeing conflict. The share of support is also over 80 percent in Germany and Sweden, which saw large numbers of migrants seeking refugee status in 2015 and 2016.

In Greece and Italy, the largest entry points for migrants into Europe, the survey shows that a majority of people still favor accepting refugees.

People in Poland and Hungary are less willing to support taking in refugees, according to the Pew study. In Poland, 49 percent expressed support, while Hungary is the European country with the lowest acceptance rate at about one third (32 percent).

Disapproval of EU’s handling of the refugee issue

While most people in European countries support taking in refugees, the Pew study found there is widespread disapproval of how the EU is dealing with "the refugee issue."

Since 2015, deep divisions have formed between EU member states. Some central European countries have refused to take in any asylum seekers while others, including Sweden and Germany, have received a disproportionately large share.

The survey shows that the disapproval rating is highest in Greece, where 92 percent said they disapprove of the EU’s handling of the issue.

In Sweden, 84 percent disapprove of the EU’s actions on refugees, followed by Hungary (89 percent), Italy (78 percent), and France (74 percent).

The survey comes as the presidency of the European Union is held by Austria, which is advocating for policies that prevent irregular migrants from entering Europe and applying for asylum.


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