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Think Change episode 21: what do Europeans really think about migrants?

Written by Sara Pantuliano, Sunder Katwala, Gonzalo Fanjul, Claire Kumar


The rhetoric around immigration in Europe has become increasingly politicised and polarised. National governments are taking a more hostile approach in both the narrative used, and the implementation of regressive policies that are costly and ineffective.

In the spirit of ‘deterrence’ we are seeing pushbacks of migrants arriving by sea in southern Europe and at numerous land borders with severe consequences.

In the UK, there has been much debate around the government’s proposed zero-tolerance stance on migrants arriving illegally, with a particular focus on the Channel small boats crossings. This is in stark contrast to the widespread support for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Europe being granted full protections, access to public services and the right to work.

Meanwhile, our research suggests that the public attitudes towards refugees and other migrants is increasingly positive.

In this episode we will discuss what policies are working, how and why public opinion is often at odds with the political narrative, and what our political leaders can do better.


  • Sara Pantuliano (host), Chief Executive, ODI
  • Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, UK  
  • Gonzalo Fanjul, Director of Research, Fundación porCausa, Spain  
  • Claire Kumar, Senior Research Fellow, ODI Europe

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