According to the standard survey conducted by the Eurobarometer in the autumn of 2019, both the residents of Lithuania and other Baltic countries view immigration as one of the most important problems the European Union face. Such standpoint was expressed by 41 percent of Lithuanian respondents, 46 percent of Latvian respondents, and by 52 percent of Estonian respondents. People questioned by the survey were asked to choose two answers in line with these particular topics: social problems (criminality, unemployment, terrorism), economical questions (economic situation, rising prices, taxes, pensions, state of the public finances run by the Member States), political status (global EU influence), or environmental issues (environment, climate change, energy supply).
Immigration as one of the most important EU problems was most frequently mentioned by the Lithuanian residents aged 40-54 (48,1 percent of the group), and least often by those aged 55 and older (35 percent of the group). In Latvia, the EU immigration issues were viewed similarly among all age groups with figures varying between 43,1 percent among those aged 15-24 and 47,6 percent among those aged 55 and older. In Estonia, immigration as one of the most important EU problems was most often mentioned by those aged 55 and older (61,1 percent of the group), whereas the youngest group of people questioned by the survey (aged 15-24) appeared to have the smallest share (or 24,6 percent) of the respondents who hold such views.
When asked to identify the most important problem in their country, immigration was mentioned by 14,3 percent of the respondents aged 15-24; by 2,7 percent of the respondents aged 25-39; by 5,3 percent of the respondents aged 40-54; and, finally, by 4,9 percent of the respondents aged 55 and older. In Latvia, such standpoint was most frequently represented by its residents aged 25-39 (by 7,5 percent of the group) and least often by the youth aged 15-24 (by 3,9 percent of the group). In Estonia, the view that immigration is an issue which is relevant to the country was predominantly (however not sharply) held by the residents aged 40-54 (13,8 percent of the group) and disapproved by the residents aged 55 and older (11,1 percent of the group).
Through answers to the question on whether immigration issue should be considered as a priority when allocating the EU budget, such position was most often supported by the Lithuanian residents aged 15-24 (14,5 percent of the group), Latvian residents aged 40-54 (9,1 percent of the group), and Estonian residents aged 25-39 (10,2 percent of the group). Such standpoint was least frequent by the Lithuanian and Estonian residents aged 55 and older (respectfully corresponding to 9,4 and 4,6 percent of these groups) and by the Latvian residents aged 15-24 (6,3 percent of the group).
If analyzed in accordance to how well the respondents are satisfied with their lives, the most prone to the proposal to allocate the EU funds in order to solve immigration problems were the Lithuanian residents who feel sufficiently satisfied (12,2 percent of the group), and Latvian and Estonian residents who find themselves rather unsatisfied (each group corresponding to 11,2 and 9,6 percent share).
The residents of all three countries also expressed their position when asked whether, in their opinion, solidarity with the distressed regions is what most fosters the sense of community among the citizens of the EU. In Lithuania, such statement was positively welcomed by 10,3 percent, in Latvia – by 7,9 percent, and in Estonia – by 6,1 percent of people questioned by the survey. In our country, such position was most often held by the respondents who are sufficiently satisfied with their lives (by 11,6 percent of the group), whereas in Latvia – among its residents who are not at all satisfied with their lives (by 11,1 percent of the group). In Estonia, the view that solidarity with the destressed regions is an expression of the EU community was mostly held by the respondents who are very or sufficiently satisfied with their lives (each group corresponding to the 5,8 percent share).
In addition to that, the residents of the Baltic countries were asked to identify what aspect the European Union signifies given it is viewed from a personal level. In Lithuania, 9 percent of the male residents responded that they associate the EU with insufficient external border control, whereas in Latvia and Estonia such standpoint was held by respectfully 9,8 and 23,8 percent of each group. The position corresponds to 10,1 percent of female respondents in Lithuania, 8,7 percent of female respondents in Latvia, and 14,3 percent of female respondents in Estonia.
Research group intern at the Diversity Development Group
(coordinator of the MIPAS project)