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Dutch attitudes towards immigration & mobility

A new report by the European Commission provides a complex and fascinating glimpse into the divided attitudes in the Netherlands and between EU Member States towards cross-border mobility, migration, and security.

According to the survey, the Dutch are relatively positive about the effect of immigration on their country, the entitlement of legal immigrants to equal rights, the acceptance of asylum seekers, and in their perception of local, national, and EU security.

On the other hand, the majority of Dutch respondents are not in favor of encouraging non-EU immigration to fill gaps in the job market, and they are among the Europeans least likely to believe that discrimination impedes integration and to support making it easier for non-EU citizens to travel to the EU for business or tourism.

Cross-border mobility

 For EU citizens
The majority of Europeans believe it is important for them to be able to travel within the EU without internal border controls. However, Europeans from new Member States (e.g. Poland, Romania) are much more likely to believe this (77%) than those in the original EU member states (65%), and there are considerable national variations. Support is highest in Cyprus (87%), lowest in Sweden and Denmark (47 and 43%, respectively), and stands at 63% in the Netherlands.

 For non-EU citizens
Six of out ten Europeans believe it should be easier for non-EU citizens to travel to the EU for tourism or business. However, Europeans from new member states (69%) are more likely than original EU members (53%) to think so. This belief is most prevalent in Poland (78%) and Lithuania (78%) and least so in the Netherlands (46%), Austria (45%) and Luxembourg (42%).

Migration

 From non-EU countries
A larger proportion of Europeans (46%) do not believe than believe (42%) that the EU should encourage labour migration from non-EU countries to help tackle labour shortages facing the EU. Respondents from Sweden were most likely to support migration from non-EU citizens (60%) and those from Latvia (18%) and Cyprus (16%) were least likely to agree, while the Netherlands stood at 41%.

Discussion based on accurate information? Only one third of Europeans believe that discussion regarding immigration in the EU is based on accurate information. A majority of Dutch respondents do not believe that it is (56%); this attitude is matched in the UK, and is only higher in Sweden (59%).

 Basis for immigrants' struggles
There is a very widespread view among Europeans that non-EU immigrants may have difficulties integrating because they do not wish to do so (73%). This view is strongest in Slovenia (90%) and weakest in Sweden (52%); the Netherlands ranks near the bottom in this attitude at 63%.

Many Europeans acknowledge that discrimination may contribute to these difficulties (60%). Sweden ranks highest in this regard (80%). In the countries least likely to agree, opinion tends to be evenly divided; Bulgaria is the lowest at 45%, while in the Netherlands 48% agree and 50% disagree.

 Equal rights for immigrants?
Most Europeans believe legal immigrants should have the same rights as national citizens (68%). This belief is strongest in Sweden (90%), with the Netherlands following at 85%. This belief is weakest in Cyprus (39%), Hungary (35%), and Latvia (30%).

 Does it enrich your country? 
Opinion on whether immigration enriches the country is more divided (53% agree, 42% disagree), and there are only 13 EU member states where the majority of respondents agree. Respondents from Sweden are most likely to agree (81%), while those from the Czech Republic (23%), Cyprus (23%), and Latvia (19%) are least likely to agree. The Dutch rank near the top at 67%.

 Asylum seekers
The vast majority of Europeans think EU Member States should offer asylum to those in need (80%). The Dutch are quite charitable in this regard; at 91% support they rank only behind Sweden (95%) and Denmark (92%). The vast majority of Dutch people also believe that EU rules for admitting asylum seekers should be the same across the EU (90%), second only to Sweden (92%).

 Illegal immigration
The majority of Europeans believe that the EU should increase its assistance to Member States in handling illegal immigration (80%); the Netherlands was among the countries less supportive of the notion at 77%. Most Europeans also believe that costs of handling illegal immigration should be shared among all EU members (78%); the Netherlands was average in this regard (78%).

Security
Almost all Europeans believe that their immediate neighborhood (90%), surrounding area (i.e. city, town, or village) (89%), country (84%), and the EU (81%) is a safe place to live. Respondents in Finland, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands hold particularly positive perceptions of security at all four geographical levels, while those in Hungary consistently hold the least positive (but still majority positive) perceptions. Perceptions of safety consistently decreased as the scale of the area in question increased.

In terms of socio-demographics, a consistent pattern emerged throughout the results of the survey of younger people (especially 15 to 24 year olds) tending to have more positive attitudes, particularly with respect to freedom of movement and immigration, and older people (especially those 75 years and older) tending to have less positive attitudes towards these issues.

About the report
The report, entitled "Awareness of Home Affairs," summarises the results of a Eurobarometer survey conducted by the European Commission Directorate-General for Home Affairs (DG HOME). DG HOME is responsible for building a common EU migration and asylum policy and ensuring EU security. The survey was conducted in December 2011. Survey respondents aged 15 and over, came from all 27 EU Member States, and were selected randomly in proportion to each Member State's population. The total number of respondents was 26.693.

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Carly Blair

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