Europe News

How Europeans have reacted to migrant crisis

Luke Graham, special to CNBC
Europe’s biggest migration since WWII?

Public opinion around Europe has become increasingly divided over how to deal with the continuing migrant crisis, even as tens of thousands of refugees traveled through Hungary and Austria into Germany.

Almost 340,000 migrants and refugees have been spotted at the borders of the European Union since January, according to border agency Frontex.

More recently, the European Commission is considering allocating quotas of asylum seekers to each EU state, in order to redistribute 160,000 people who have arrived in Greece, Hungary and Italy.

CNBC looked at some of the reactions to the ongoing crisis.

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On Monday, as French President Francois Hollande declared the country would accept 24,000 refugees, a survey of 1,000 French citizens by Odoxa for Le Parisien Today found that 55 percent opposed easing the rules for migrants seeking refugee status, including Syrians fleeing the civil war.

The survey also found that 61 percent were in favor of French troops intervening in Syria to end the conflict.

Earlier this weekend, around 10,000 people demonstrated around the country to welcome migrants, according to news agency France 24.

United Kingdom

After pictures of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, appeared online and on newspapers, there was an upsurge in public support for refugees.

Pressured by fellow politicians and by the public, Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday pledged in parliament that Britain would accept 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

More than 430,000 British citizens signed a petition calling for the government to receive more asylum seekers, but a counter-petition has been signed by over 110,000 people asking the government to stop immigration into the U.K. and close all borders.

Various demonstrations have been organised to take place across the country on September 12th to show support for refugees. Thousands have signed up to the events' pages on Facebook.

Europe's migrant crisis continues

However, a demonstration has been organised for the following weekend to demonstrate against the country accepting more migrants. According to the Facebook page for the event, around 340 people have said they would attend.

The crisis may also impact the U.K.'s forthcoming EU referendum. A survey of 1,004 British citizens published by the Mail on Sunday newspaper found 51 percent wanted to leave EU.

Speaking to CNBC, Eurosceptic politician Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence party, claimed the country "cannot cope" with more immigration.


Pro- and anti-immigration marches have taken place in Germany. In late August, a protest in the town of Heidenau against a refugee center being opened led to violence between police and protesters. A week later, organizers of a march through the nearby city of Dresden in support of refugees claimed 5,000 people attended.

Read More'If this is your idea of Europe, you can keep it'

On Monday, two asylum centers were attacked, according to Reuters. Five people were hurt in a fire at a center in Rottenburg and Reuters say there are have been dozens of arson attacks on centers in recent months.

A poll by broadcaster ZDF found 60 percent of Germans felt the country could cope with the number of refugees arriving in the country. Germany expects to receive 800,000 refugees and migrants.


A recent pro-immigration demonstration in Zurich ended in clashes with the police, according to Swissinfo. The protest was calling for Swiss authorities to be more open to refugees.

However, a survey of the 1,000 members of the public found that 44.6 percent of the public wanted Swiss borders to be temporarily closed.

The Basel University survey, published by the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper, also found 83.1 percent preferred for the country to provide financial aid to places where the migrant crisis is more acute, rather than accept more refugees and migrants themselves.

Eastern Europe

Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are all opposed to the EU Commission's plan to assign quotas of refugees to EU states.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic have only taken a few hundred refugees each, and Slovakia was criticised by various groups, including the UN, for stating it would only accept Christian refugees.

A poll of 1,000 Czech citizens by the Focus agency found that 94 percent think the EU should deport all refugees, while 44 percent thought the Czech Republic should not be helping refugees at all.

Hungary builds migrant-deterring wall

Follow Luke Graham on Twitter: @LukeWGraham