Europeans Can Be Sorted Into Six Tribes

Europeans aren’t just pro- or anti-EU. Their views on immigration and solidarity suggest the existence of six tribes.

A couple and the stars of a European Union flag are reflected in a window in Paris, France
A couple and the stars of a European Union flag are reflected in a window in Paris, France (Mark Notari)

Europeans can be sorted into six “tribes”, argues Chatham House based on a survey of public opinion in ten different countries:

  1. Hesitant Europeans: The largest group (36 percent), they sit in the middle on many issues but tend to vote center-right. They are ambivalent about the EU and worry about high immigration.
  2. Contented Europeans: Often young, socially liberal and unperturbed about immigration, this group (23 percent) is happy with the way things are. They want neither a federal Europe nor disintegration. Many young Central Europeans fall in this category.
  3. EU Rejecters: Feel the EU is undemocratic and are angry that politicians aren’t doing enough to stop immigration. This group (14 percent) is disproportionately rural and overrepresented in Austria and the United Kingdom.
  4. Frustrated Pro-Europeans: Want closer EU integration driven by “progressive values” but don’t themselves feel the benefits of membership. Relatively many Belgians, French and Italians are in this group (9 percent).
  5. Austerity Rebels: Want a looser, “more democratic” EU, but — unlike EU Rejecters — do believe wealthy member states should help out the poor. This group (9 percent) is generally middle-aged, possibly unemployed and likely to live in Greece or Italy.
  6. Federalists: Highly educated, wealthier and more likely to be urban than the other tribes, this group (8 percent) dreams of a United States of Europe.

The tribes are formed by their answers to three questions:

  1. Should the EU get more or less power?
  2. Has immigration been positive or negative?
  3. Should rich member states support the poor?

This can reveal unlikely alliances:

  • Contented Europeans can make common cause with the Federalists and Frustrated Pro-Europeans to block anti-immigration measures, but they will side with the Euroskeptic tribes to stop more power going to Brussels.
  • Austerity Rebels often ally with EU Rejecters, but when push comes to shove they don’t actually want to leave the EU.