Italians are the worst in the EU at over-estimating the proportion of immigrants living in their country, a new report claims.
Respondents to a Eurobarometer survey claimed around a quarter of Italy’s population were foreign born.
But official Eurostat figures show the proportion of immigrants in the country was just 7% last year.
Italy — one of the countries on Europe’s frontline when it comes to people arriving by sea from Africa — has just had a controversial election campaign during which immigration was a key issue.
Overall the survey found EU respondents over-estimated the proportion of immigrants in their country by an average of 9.5%.
Estonia was the only country where people thought there were fewer foreign-born nationals in their population than there actually were.
Respondents from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Luxembourg, Ireland, UK, Cyprus, Greece, Slovenia, Belgium and Bulgaria over-estimated the proportion of immigrants by 10% or more.
Those questioned from Croatia and Sweden were the most accurate.
Eurobarometer based its data on the responses of 19,957 people and excluded those who had earlier said they did not know the proportion of immigrants living in their country. For the survey, it considers an immigrant as someone born outside the EU.
Actual versus perceived: the proportion of immigrants in each EU country