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TO THE POINT
160414 EU immigration
  • Europe and immigration. For some reason, folk seem to be talking a lot about Europe at the moment. And immigration. So I thought I’d combine the two in one handy To The Point post. The above chart shows the number of foreign nationals in European Union countries, as a proportion of those countries’ overall populations. It splits the foreign nationals into citizens of other EU countries and citizens of countries outside the EU. Of course, this means that it doesn’t count those people who were born abroad but have gained citizenship where they live – but you can’t have everything.
  • The moving millions… First, however, the numbers behind the numbers. There are some 508 million people in the EU. Of these, 19.8 million are citizens of countries outside the EU, whilst 15.2 million are EU citizens living in another EU country. Just under a fifth of this latter group have come to the United Kingdom, making us the second most popular destination. The most popular is Germany, home to 3.5 million citizens from other EU countries.
  • …and the UK’s share of them. These numbers look rather different when expressed as percentages of the host nation’s total population, as they are in the chart. The UK’s 3 million immigrants from other EU countries make up 4.6 per cent of its 64.9 million population. The 2.4 million immigrants from outside the EU count for another 3.8 per cent. Which is to say, 8.4 per cent of our population is made up of foreign nationals. That puts us tenth in the league table.
  • The striking exceptions. Aside from the UK, it’s the exceptions that stand out from the chart. Latvia and Estonia have much higher proportions of non-EU citizens among their populations than of other EU citizens. This, apparently, is because plenty of Russians were left in these countries when they became independent from the Soviet Union, and those Russians have decided to stay Russian since. A reminder, if one were necessary, that immigration statistics are often a function of history and of empire.
  • Come to Luxembourg! And what about Luxembourg, well out in the lead? Its 45.9 per cent share of foreign nationals, most of whom are citizens of other EU countries, will be partially explained by it being within a croissant’s throw of France, Germany and Belgium – but also, surely, by its rather liberal tax setup. Money makes the world go round, and it makes the world’s occupants move around too.

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