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Refugee and migration policies in Europe: What role for public preferences?

Thursday, 27 January 2022


Dr. Alina Vranceanu
Research Fellow, Migration Policy Centre , European University Institute
Dr. Martin Ruhs
Deputy Director, Migration Policy Centre, European University Institute
Fabienne Keller
Member of the European Parliament, Renew Group
Shada Islam
Senior Adviser, European Policy Centre; Editor, EUobserver Magazine


Silvia Carta
Policy analyst, European Policy Centre

This closed-door event will take stock of the latest analytical insights into public attitudes on migration, the politicization of migration and asylum, political responsiveness on immigration issues, and voters’ political behaviour.

According to a Politico headline back in September 2017, Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán was “winning the migration argument”. Whilst he was maligned in European capitals for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, at the end of the day, the magazine wrote, if one looked closely, Orbán’s rhetoric was echoed in the positions of then Commission President Juncker or in the proposals of politicians at national level.

Dynamics of this kind have regularly been observed and reported on since. What appears to drive them is a general perception that public opinion on asylum and other forms of migration has shifted to favour more control-oriented policies. Politicians and policymakers who advocate for more restrictive approaches to refugee protection frequently argue that this is “what the people want”. They also often refer to the fear that, should they fail to deliver such policies, voters would turn to far-right parties. But what role should public attitudes play in policy-making? Have European publics really turned against migrants and refugee protection? Is there a risk of fuelling far-right voting behaviour if public preferences are not addressed?

Our roundtable discussion will bring together a selected group of high-level experts, political observers and decision-makers at EU and national levels to foster an informed exchange on these topics.

The roundtable will be moderated by Silvia Carta, Policy Analyst, EPC, and will be held under Chatham House rules.

This event is upon invitation only. If you are interested in participating please contact Silvia Carta or Svenja Niederfranke.

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