According to a new survey, 80 percent of Irish people think that immigrants are integrated successfully in the country. The percentage represents the highest proportion of positive responses across all EU member states.
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The results of the EU-wide survey, published by the European Commission, are in stark contrast to the outcome of an Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) study in March 2018, which found that Ireland had one of the most negative attitudes towards immigration in Western Europe.
However, the European Commission’s survey shows that when asked - “Generally speaking, how successful or not is the integration of most immigrants?” - 80 percent of people selected the response – “Integration is successful in the local area or country.” According to the survey, this is 26 percent higher than the EU average.
Titled The Special Eurobarometer 469, the survey gauged public opinion concerning the integration of immigrants across all 28 EU member states. More than 28,000 people we’re surveyed, including 1,000 in Ireland. The results found that Bulgaria, Estonia and Hungary were the least positive about immigrant integration in their countries.
UK ranks fourth most positive
Meanwhile, the survey ranked the UK the fourth most positive nation, with 71 percent of the opinion that immigrants are successfully integrated into British society. Overall, more than half of EU respondents (54 percent) believe that immigrant integration has been a success.
However, in nations that have a low population volume of non-EU immigrants, survey respondents viewed immigrant integration as less successful and unlikely to have a positive impact on society.
Younger respondents viewed immigration as an opportunity, while older respondents were more likely to regard immigration as a problem, according to the survey’s findings.
An excerpt from the survey report reads: “The overall picture is therefore an ambiguous one: seeing immigration as a problem may not mean hostility against migrants, but rather reflect a perception that governments are not managing the issue of immigrant integration in an adequate way.”
According to the survey results, most Europeans view the integration of immigrants as a ‘necessary, long-term investment for the future of their nations.
The positive attitude of Irish people towards immigrant integration in Ireland was welcomed by the country’s minister of state with special responsibility for equality, immigration and integration, David Stanton who said: “The findings are encouraging and are a credit to local communities and organisations working in support of integration throughout Ireland.”
The minister of state highlighted that the Irish government is aiming to ensure the successful integration of refugees, while pledging his commitment to supporting local-level ventures through the Communities Integration Fund. He said: “Integration is a continuous process that requires sustained commitment and dedication.”
EU attitudes to immigration
The findings of the survey found that across the EU overall, just 37 percent felt well-informed about immigration and integration matters in their country. In terms of the immigrant population in their home nation, Europeans tend to wildly overestimate the number of non-EU foreign nationals living in the country.
According to the survey results, in 19 of the 28 EU member states, respondents estimated that the number of immigrants who made up the population was at least double the actual number.
Meanwhile, approximately six in 10 survey participants across the EU said they interact with immigrants on a daily basis. Four in 10 said they have family members or friends who are immigrants.
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