Across Europe Attitudes Towards Globalism and Open Borders are Hardening, Major Research Finds

Hungarian border police officiers patrol on horses on December 15, 2022 at the Hungarian-S
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Approval rates for welcoming refugees and support for globalism are low across Europe, with soaring numbers of respondents believing they are being personally harmed by the globalisation process, research shows.

The number of Britons who believe they are being personally harmed by globalisation has increased near-three-fold in one year, the number of Swedes who believe that has doubled, and in Germany, it has gone up nearly 90 per cent. Meanwhile, less than a third of Danes are happy about refugees fleeing to their country, and under half of all European nations surveyed say the same. This has been revealed in a partial dataset of research into the state of globalism in the West reported by Germany’s Die Welt newspaper.

Created by YouGov working with Cambridge University and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the annual ‘Globalism Project’ is now in its fourth year. While previous editions have been used to trumpet the uniformity in public support for globalism and its ideas across the world, there appears to be less cause for centrist celebration this time, with Welt noting in their own headline: “Germans are particularly sceptical about refugees and asylum”.

And indeed, what few figures from the wider study Welt has reproduced seem to bear out the claim: responding to the question “It’s good that people can flee from war and displacement to our country”, just 34 per cent agreed. Interestingly, this figure is said to be very stable, remaining at around the one-third mark for years, suggesting that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not increased sympathy towards refugees in Europe’s richest nation.

Only Denmark at 30 per cent was lower, but all Euro nations revealed in the report were below half, with those glad to welcome refugees at 39 per cent in Spain, 41 per cent in Italy, 44 per cent in the UK, and 47 per cent in France.

Compare these figures to Australia, for instance, which simultaneously has one of the most effective border control programmes of any country in the Western World but also the highest level of support for refugees of any country polled in the research at 53 per cent.

In terms of attitudes towards globalism itself, the survey recognises the difference between the impacts of opening up nations to the world in terms of effect on the country, as well as individuals living inside it. Asked whether they agree that “globalization is good for the economy”, people answering from European nations have been relatively stable for the four years of the study, with slight drops in support for globalism this year.

French respondents are the least likely to think globalism has been good for their country, with just 19 per cent agreeing. The United Kingdom, Poland, and Sweden all registered around one-third of respondents expressing support for the globalist project.  Danes are the most likely to see positive impacts for their economy overall, at 50 per cent agreeing, down from 54 per cent two years ago.

The really dramatic changes this past year, the research suggests, are in those believing they are being personally harmed by globalism. Asked whether they agree with the statement “I personally am harmed by globalization”, the number in the United Kingdom has soared from eight per cent last year to 24 per cent this year, a three-fold rise.

While none are close to being an outright majority, the increases in 12 months are stark. Italy also jumped, from 18 to 28 per cent feeling personally impacted, Germans rising from 13 to 22 per cent, and Danes from six per cent to 13. The highest proportion in any country surveyed for the project was the French, where a considerable 33 per cent say they have been personally harmed by globalisation.

Interpreting the results for the newspaper, Joel Rogers de Waal, co-director of the YouGov-Cambridge Centre said that “since the beginning of the study, we have clearly seen a decline in positive perceptions of some aspects of globalization”. Yet, he noted that “attitudes vary” and in his opinion that made “simple generalisations” about whether people supported globalisation or not difficult.


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