A quarter of Maltese would feel uncomfortable even being friends with an immigrant, a new EU-wide survey on migration and integration has found.

The Maltese respondents to the EU-wide survey were asked whether they would feel comfortable with various “social relations” with immigrants. Only a third said they felt comfortable with all the categories.

The survey defined an immigrant as a person born outside the EU and currently legally staying in an EU country.

One in five said they would not be comfortable working with immigrants as their colleagues, while a third were uncomfortable with having an immigrant as their job superior.

According to the survey, 28 per cent said they would not like to live next door to an immigrant.

The Maltese were most uncomfortable – at 37 per cent – with the thought of having an immigrant for a doctor, while a third said they did not like the idea of having an immigrant as a family member.

Maltese the most likely to think immigrants are a burden on the welfare State

The Eurobarometer survey asked citizens across all 28 EU member atates for their views on migration-related topics. Nearly two-thirds of the 500 Maltese who participated said they were not well-informed about migration matters. This was roughly in line with the EU average. 

The Maltese were the most likely Europeans (63 per cent) to think migration was more of a problem than positive. 

Education was a factor. Over half of those who had finished their education at the age of 15 or younger thought that migration was a problem, compared to fewer than three in 10 of those who had finished their education at the age of 20 or older.

The survey also found that the level of difficulty respondents had financially “clearly lined up” with their perceptions on migration. Respondents who said they had difficulties paying their bills most of the time were significantly more likely to see migration as a problem than those who had almost never faced such problems.

The Maltese were the most likely (75 per cent) to think immigrants were a burden on the Maltese welfare State. On the other hand, they were among the least likely (28 per cent) to think immigrants enriched the island’s cultural fabric.

Nearly four in five thought immigrants worsened crime rates. But 84 per cent also thought immigrants did a lot of Malta’s ‘dirty’ jobs – generally seen as a positive.