Understanding free movement and migration in the European Union
EU citizens don’t distinguish migration and mobility
The difference between ‘EU mobility’ — the right of EU citizens to move freely around the bloc — and the ‘migration’ of non-EU nationals into the EU is a crucial distinction for the European project, and has the effect of making the entire region operate (from a migration perspective at least) much like one large federal state. However, while this distinction is clearly defined within the structures of the EU, it appears to be rarely made by ordinary EU citizens, and is not acknowledged by international law.
Both the United Nations and the Council of Europe treat intra-EU mobility as international migration. Data from the European Social Survey suggests the vast majority of Europeans don’t differentiate between EU and non-EU citizens who move to their countries: they show the same level of support for migration from both within and outside Europe or the EU, either supporting strong limits on both types of migration or supporting substantial migration flows from both sources.