REFERENCE 11 Mar, 2020

Germans Divided Over Refugees on EU Borders

The crisis at the Greek border raises fears of a 2015 influx

REFERENCE Germans Divided Over Refugees on EU Borders

Germans today are more wary about accepting refugees into the country than they were during the 2015 migration crisis when 1.2 million people entered Germany to apply for political asylum. Before and even during the influx of 2015-2016, most Germans -- nearly two thirds through most of the year 2015 -- said Germany could and should accept refugees who intended to apply for political asylum. But that willingness ebbed as the refugees kept coming, and by 2016 more Germans wanted the borders shut down than wanted them open. A 2017 poll conducted by Bertelsmann Stiftung found that 80% of those asked considered immigration an additional burden for the social welfare state. A total of 72% feared more social tension because of immigration and 68% said there’d be more conflict in schools.

Since then, a thin majority has been against Germany accepting refugees on its own when the rest of the EU countries don’t do the same. Today, according to an ARD poll, 48% favor opening the Greek border even if other EU countries don’t do the same. A total of 49% are against Germany taking refugees when the whole EU is not involved. Politically, supporters of Germany’s parties have different responses: those of the Greens (75%) favour Germany stepping up, as do those of The Left (60%) and the Social Democrats (71%), as well as the Christian Democrats (49% versus 46% against it). On the other hand, the Free Democrat (69%) and Alternative for Germany (93%) backers say no to it.

But the ARD survey also showed that in the event that refugees would be distributed throughout EU Europe, 57% of Germans were for accepting refugees. A total of 41% are against it.  

The same survey also found that just over half of Germans (51%) think that the EU-Turkey Deal, in which the EU pays Turkey to maintain refugees camps for Syrian refugees in Turkey, is a “good” thing. (This is 3% more than in Oct 2019.) A total of 45% say it is “bad”. The recent numbers show a significant uptick in favourability from 2016 when 57% found it bad and only 38% thought it was good. Yet, at the same time, 59% said the EU shouldn’t continue paying Turkey for these services while just 31% said that it should.

A March 2-4 Insa poll conducted for Cicero magazine found that 49% are against willing EU countries accepting refugees stranded at the Greek border. A total of 31% were in favour of distributing the refugees in member states willing to accept them. 7% said that neither the acceptance of nor the refusal to take refugees was right. More men than women (54% to 45%) objected to the idea, and more eastern Germans than western Germans (32% to 29%) were also against it.