FFE Magazine

Sweden: the most expat-tolerant EU Country

14may sweden switzerland migration



In a survey of 28 EU countries conducted by European Council, Sweden emerged on top when it came to satisfaction and perception of immigrants.


According to ‘Europeans in 2014,’ 91% of Swedes said that they believe immigrants contributed significantly to society. The next country to top the list showed significantly lower numbers: 79% in Luxembourg viewed immigration positively. On average, the EU was divided on the issue: 48% said immigrants contributed positively while 45% disagreed.


Of the Swedes who gave positive feedback, 44% ‘totally agreed’ while 47% ‘tended to agree.’ Only 2% said they ‘totally disagreed’ that migration contributed to society.


Swedish anthropologist Gillis Herlitz explained that the optimism on immigration was due to the Swedes’ openness to other cultures: ‘I think most Swedes have had good experiences with other cultures. Swedes are a very curious people, curious about the world and other ways of doing things.’


This tolerant world view among Swedes could be emulated by other, less-tolerant nations to finally put an end to racial prejudice and anti-free movement stance.


Although not a member of the EU, Switzerland has been struggling with the migration debate and is one of these nations that may want to reconsider its understanding of migration.


The Swiss government plans to put a quota on migration on the grounds of abuse to employment, welfare and housing. But the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants François Crépeau said that restrictions like this do not make migration go away.


In fact, Crépeau said that migration ‘has always existed and will always exist. It’s part of humankind’s DNA. Borders have always been porous and people have always found ways through them.’


The problem is that some politicians view migrants as ‘a threat from abroad’ and that migrants are seen collectively as ‘an indistinguishable mass with no individuals.’ This is problematic, because it does not recognise migrants as people with their own voices and needs, leading to less representation in politics and the polls.


Crépeau said that the solution to the migration debate is ‘to listen to the migrants themselves. What do they want to do?


‘That means [speeches] by politicians about citizenship also has to change. The idea of citizenship is evolving [as migration continues].


‘[Migrants are] intermediaries between countries, between economies, business environments and cultural platforms. They can create wealth for both countries.


‘[This is why] we should value multiple citizenship.’



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