Most Germans think that immigration is the EU’s most important contemporary challenge and the majority of them are against immigration from non-EU countries. Last week, the German edition of Eurobarometer opinion poll was published revealing that 37 percent of Germans identified immigration as the block’s most important challenge. The United Kingdom and Malta are the only EU countries in which this number is higher with 38 and 57 percent respectively. In other Member States, the economic situation (33 percent) and unemployment (29 percent) were labeled the biggest issues.
Moreover, only about a third (29 percent) of Germans supports immigration from non-EU countries. 45 percent of Germans also think that illegal immigration into the block should be counteracted at both national and EU levels. About a third of them also believe that checks and controls that are currently carried out at the Schengen borders are insufficient. Given these numbers, the EU’s biggest economy is now more critical than the continent’s average with 57 percent Germans being against immigration from outside the block. The higher numbers are only in Italy (75 percent), Latvia (79 percent) and Slovakia (74 percent).
Richard Kühnel, representative of the European Commission in Germany, commented that “the issue of migration has become more controversial and has reached the mainstream of society”. In his opinion, better integration of immigrants from third countries is a task that all EU Member States should share. He also added that the protection of refugees, who come to the EU via the Mediterranean, must also be improved, Mr Kühnel indicated. Although Germans mostly rejected immigration from outside the European Union, about half of them welcome migration within the EU and 76 percent think it is a good thing that every EU citizen can live in any country. 76 percent of Germans also support the right of every EU national to work in another EU country.