Italy was the only country of the Western European nations surveyed where a majority viewed the impact of immigrants negatively. Publics in Britain, France, Germany and Spain were divided, while the Swedes had an overwhelmingly positive view of the influence immigrants had on their country.
While the recent anti-immigrant violence has been directed at Africans, Italians expressed equally negative views of immigration from Eastern European countries as they do about immigration from the Middle East and Africa. Two-thirds said it was a bad thing that people from the Middle East and North Africa come to live and work in Italy; an equal number said the same about immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Only about one-in-five Italians saw immigration from the Middle East and Africa and Eastern Europe as a good thing for Italy (20% and 22%, respectively).
Germans were also largely unwelcoming of immigrants. Solid majorities in Germany said it was bad that people from the Middle East and North Africa (64%) and from Eastern Europe (58%) moved to their country.
Opinions were more mixed in Spain and France, while many more in Britain and Sweden said immigration from the Middle East and North African and from Eastern European countries was a good thing than said it was a bad thing.
A fall 2009 survey found that more than eight-in-ten Italians (83%) agreed that "we should restrict and control entry into our country more than we do now," including 40% who completely agreed with the statement.
Majorities in the other Western European countries included in the 2009 poll also expressed support for tougher restrictions on immigration. About eight-in-ten in Spain (80%) and Britain (78%) shared that view, as did 65% in Germany and 64% in France.
Juliana Menasce Horowitz. "Widespread Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Italy". Pew Global Attitudes Project, 2010.