WHAT ARE THE main migratory passages and trends in Europe?
This is a particularly complicated question to answer as it can be measured in different ways: are migrations counted as non-EU residents, new EU citizens, asylum seekers and refugees, illegal migrants, any non-national living in an EU country, or a combination of all of these?
Immigration figures must also be put in the context of the number of people emigrating out of the EU, with net migration being the key indicator.
Migration is influenced by a combination of economic, political and social factors: a migrant’s country providing ‘push factor’ conditions or the destination country providing ‘pull factors’. The economic prosperity and stability of the EU in recent years has provided considerable attraction for immigrants, especially those living in politically unstable regions.
Here are the migration trends to the EU over the past 5-6 years.
On January 1, 447.3 million people lived in the EU. 5% of this total, or 23 million, were non-European citizens. 8% were born outside the EU.
For those with a valid residence permit, 38% said they applied for the permit for family reasons, and 17% said they applied for it to work.
Non-EU citizens were more likely to work as cleaners, builders, and personal services and care workers than other employment sectors; this is consistent with research which shows that migrants tend to take lower paying jobs, which tends to benefit “native” workers.
According to EU figures, there are on average 5 migrants per 1,000 inhabitants in the bloc in 2019. Ireland’s rate is three times higher than this average, with the fourth highest proportion of non-European migrants for 1000 (17).
Asylum seekers and refugees
Claims for refugee status increased dramatically after the Syrian humanitarian crisis in 2015, and fell at the start of the pandemic.
Asylum claims in the EU may increase following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, but it is likely that the majority of asylum seekers will seek refuge in neighboring countries. ‘Afghanistan.
Indeed, the majority of refugees from Africa and Asia do not come to Europe, but rather move to neighboring countries.
The top five nationalities of first-time asylum seekers in 2020 were from Venezuela (7.3% of all first requests); Colombia (7%); Georgia (1.6%); Peru (1.5%) and Honduras (1.4%).
EU countries granted some sort of protection to around 280,000 people in 2020. The largest groups were from: Syria (27% of all people receiving protection); Venezuela (17%) and Afghanistan (15%).
Out of the total EU population of 447 million people, in 2019 its refugee population represented 0.6% of its total population. In Germany, it represents 1.4% of its population.
The five countries with the highest proportion of refugees in its population are Lebanon (13.4%), Jordan (6.4%), Turkey (4.3%), Uganda (3.3%) and Sudan (2.5%).
In 2019, the largest group of new EU citizens was:
- Moroccans (66,800, 84% of whom have acquired Spanish, Italian or French nationality),
- Albanians (41,700, 62% acquired Italian nationality),
- British (29,800, 75% have acquired German, Swedish or French nationality),
- Syrians (29,100, 69% acquired Swedish nationality),
- Turks (28,600, 57% acquired German nationality),
- Romanians (26,600, 60% acquired Italian or German nationality),
- Brazilians (23,500, 73% have acquired Italian or Portuguese nationality),
- Ukrainians (18,100, 59% have acquired German, Polish or Italian nationality),
- Algerians (18,000, 82% have acquired French nationality) and
- Russians (16,400, 31% acquired German nationality).
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Romanians (26,600 people), Poles (12,600) and Italians (8,700) remained the three largest groups of EU citizens acquiring the nationality of another EU member state, as in 2018.
In 2019, the highest naturalization rates (the proportion of foreign residents who obtained citizenship) were recorded in Sweden (7 nationalities granted per 100 resident foreigners), Romania (4.7) and Portugal (4.4 ), followed by Finland (3.8), the Netherlands (3.2) and Belgium (2.9).
At the opposite end of the scale, naturalization rates of less than 1 acquisition of nationality per 100 resident aliens were recorded in Lithuania (0.2), Denmark (0.3) and Estonia, the rates of Ireland and Malta being 0.9.
Source: European Commission
In 2020, there were 125,100 “irregular” border crossings registered by Frontex, the EU’s border security agency.
This is a 12% drop from 2019, and the smallest in seven years.
There were 86,300 sea crossings in 2020, a decrease of 19% compared to 2019; and 38,800 land border crossings, an increase of 9% compared to 2019.
In 2020, there was a 51% increase in crossings on the Western Mediterranean (including the Atlantic route from West Africa to the Canary Islands) and a 155% increase on the Central Mediterranean routes ( 40,300 and 35,700 respectively).
This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant program from the European Parliament. All opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are those of the author. The European Parliament has no involvement or responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.