Roma: Unwelcome neighbours
A new study shows that the Roma are Europe's least popular neighbours
Brussels -- People of Roma origin are considered the least desirable neighbours in the European Union, a survey released in Brussels on Tuesday showed.
According to the Eurobarometer survey of almost 27,000 EU citizens, 24 percent of Europeans said that they would feel "uncomfortable" having a Roma neighbour, with half of them saying they would be "very uncomfortable."
That figure is more than double the number who would not like to live next door to a homosexual, and four times more than those who would feel uncomfortable living next door to someone of a different ethnic background, the report said.
On Wednesday, the EU's executive, the European Commission, is set to publish a report on the status of Roma and similar groups such as Sinti and Travellers across the 27-member bloc.
The survey, which the commission ordered ahead of its report, paints a dramatic picture of the difference of opinions on Roma between member states.
Italy, where a debate over crimes allegedly committed by Romanian and Roma immigrants dominated the headlines in late 2007, proved to be the most anti-Roma state, with 30 percent of respondents saying they would be "very uncomfortable" to have a Roma neighbour.
The figure was almost as high in the Czech Republic (29 percent) and Cyprus (25 percent).
In Poland, on the other hand, 42 percent of respondents said that they would be "totally comfortable" with a Roma neighbour, well ahead of the next most tolerant countries, Sweden (35 percent) and Denmark (33 percent).
Commission officials say that Roma are the largest minority in the EU. Accurate figures are hard to come by, but the group is estimated to consist of several millions of people.