In May 2024, the European Council adopted a migration pact, already voted by the European Parliament in April, and its detailed implementation plan was presented to the public in Brussels on 12 June by Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. Among other things, the Brussels pact provides for the legally mandatory distribution of illegal migrants between Member States and financial penalties for Member States that refuse to take them in. In addition, the European Court of Justice has ordered Hungary to pay a fine of EUR 200 million (plus EUR 1 million for each day of delay) for not taking in illegal migrants in recent years. Századvég’s Project Europe research has mapped public attitudes towards the European Union’s migration pact and the perception of illegal immigration in Europe.

6 out of 10 Europeans say no to mandatory distribution of illegal immigrants

The implementation plan, presented by Brussels Commissioner Ylva Johansson,

would make the relocation of at least 30,000 migrants a year between EU countries mandatory, but the quota could increase depending on migration pressures.

An important element of the “solidarity mechanism” is that Member States that refuse to take in illegal migrants will have to pay EUR 20,000 (HUF 8 million) for each person refused admission, or choose between other “contribution options”.

The survey shows that

60% of EU citizens disagree with the new migration pact, which allows illegal migrants to be resettled in European countries without the say of Member States,

while only 27% support the Brussels decision.

As highlighted by Századvég’s May analysis, Hungary has the highest rejection rate of the Brussels Pact among the European countries surveyed,

with 85% of Hungarians saying no to the mandatory resettlement of illegal migrants.

In the light of the latter, it is not surprising that the Hungarian Government is not implementing the Brussels decision in question, as it is contrary to the interests of our country.

Migration is reducing the sense of security across Europe

It is important to emphasise that the Brussels elite is working to legalise illegal migration, rather than curbing it. In this spirit, in January 2024, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said that “legal migration to the European Union must increase by one million people a year to compensate for the decline in the bloc’s ageing workforce”. Member States that oppose the pro-immigration agenda in Brussels are likely to face financial retaliation. In a judgment handed down on 13 June, the European Court of Justice fined Hungary for its anti-immigration policy in recent years. The EU body is imposing a fine of EUR 200 million on Hungary for breaching Brussels’ migration laws, with an additional EUR 1 million for each day of delay.

According to research by Project Europe, there is a gap between the migration aspirations of the Brussels elite and the expectations of the European public.

In all EU Member States, with the exception of Portugal and Luxembourg, the proportion of respondents who see immigration as a rather negative phenomenon exceeds the proportion of respondents who have a positive view of migration.

It is also thought-provoking that

the overwhelming majority of European citizens feel that immigration has increased crime in their country (65%) and that religious or cultural conflicts are more frequent (63%). In addition 55% of European respondents do not feel safe in their home country as a result of migration.

In terms of public perceptions of the links between crime and immigration, it can also be noted that

the proportion of respondents who believe that migration has led to an increase in crime in all EU Member States except Hungary exceeds the proportion who do not.

The Hungarian population has not experienced an increase in crime rates (linked to immigration) because in recent years Hungary has been effective in combating illegal migration through the physical and legal closure of its borders.

• The Project Europe Research

In the first half of 2016, the Századvég Foundation conducted a public opinion survey covering the 28 Member States of the European Union to examine the views of European citizens on the issues that most affect the future of the Union. The Project28 public opinion survey was the most extensive ever, with a unique survey of 1,000 randomly selected adults per country, totalling 28,000. The main objectives of the survey were to gauge public sense of prosperity and to explore public attitudes towards the performance of the European Union, the migration crisis and rising terrorism. Following the surveys of 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Századvég Foundation, on behalf of the Hungarian government, continued the research since 2020 under the name Project Europe, which continued to reflect on the most dominant topics in European political and public discourse.

Once again, the 2024 survey aimed to explore public attitudes to the most important public issues affecting our continent. In addition to the public sense of prosperity, the performance of the European Union, the energy crisis and the migration crisis, and in line with the new challenges facing Europe, the main topics of this year’s public opinion poll are the rising geopolitical tensions, energy and migration. The 2024 survey covered the European Union, the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland, and a total of 30,000 randomly selected adults were interviewed using CATI between 14 February and 15 April.