Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain and France have most foreign citizens, data shows

by Ray Clancy on August 2, 2011

Foreign citizenship up in EU states

Most foreign citizens living in the European Union, some 75%, live in the five member states of Germany, Spain, the UK, Italy and France, new figures show.


The latest population data from Eurostat shows that overall, 6.5% of the EU population is made up of foreigners and 9.4% are born abroad.

It shows that there were 47.3 million foreign born residents in the EU in 2010 of which 31.4 million were born outside the EU and 16 million were born in another EU Member State.

Only in Luxembourg, Ireland and Hungary were foreign born from other EU countries more numerous than those born outside the EU were. In addition, people born abroad outnumbered foreigners in all member states, except in Luxembourg, Latvia and the Czech Republic.

Only in Luxembourg, Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Slovakia and Hungary were there more citizens of other EU countries than third country nationals while a quarter of the foreigners in the EU are citizens of Turkey, Romania, Morocco or Poland.

The research shows that the number of people living in a member state which is not their country of citizenship has increased by 670,000 in the year to 01 January 2010 reaching a total of 32.5 millions.

The report points out that the number of foreigners depends not only on the international migration, but also on demographic factors such as births and deaths. It says that second generation migrants in most member states have their citizenship determined by that of the parents rather than by the place of birth, resulting in more child foreigners in the EU than children born abroad.

Furthermore, the number of foreigners is affected by the number of citizenship acquisitions, as persons who acquire citizenship in a member state are no longer counted as foreigners of that country.

It also points out that foreigners may become nationals, but if they were born abroad, they remain among the foreign born population. In 2010, in the EU member states there were 14.9 million more people born in a foreign country than people with foreign citizenship.

In 2010, their number exceeded one million people in nine member states: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria and Greece. The only three member states in which there were more foreigners than foreign born residents were Luxembourg, Latvia and the Czech Republic.

The most significant difference, which occurs in Luxembourg, can be explained by the high share of foreigners from other EU countries, who are less likely to apply for new citizenship because they already benefit from rights broadly comparable to those of the nationals, it adds.

The share of the foreign born population exceeded that of foreigners by more than 5% in Slovenia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Lithuania and France. This may be due to a high rate of acquisition of citizenship in Sweden and the Netherlands, migrants born on the territory of a former colony in France and the Netherlands, or persons with a country of birth that previously constituted part of a former state as in the case of Slovenia and Lithuania.

The number of citizens of other EU countries exceeded that of third country nationals in only six EU member states: Luxembourg, Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Slovakia and Hungary. Citizens of Turkey and Romania were the most numerous among foreigners in the EU, exceeding two million people in each country.

Among the other EU nationals living outside their country of citizenship, Poles and Italians ranked second and third, each with more than one million citizens living in another member state. Among the non EU foreigners, citizens of Morocco and Albania followed those of Turkey as most numerous.

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