Eurostat published new statistics on foreign-born and non-national populations across the EU for 2010 (see Statistics in Focus, 34/2011, "6.5% of the EU population are foreigners and 9.4% are born abroad").
In 2010, there were 32.5 million foreign citizens living in the EU27 Member States, of which 12.3 million were citizens of another EU27 Member State and the remaining 20.2 million were citizens of countries outside the EU27.
Foreign citizens accounted for 6.5% of the total EU27 population.
On average in 2010, foreign citizens living in the EU27 were significantly younger than the population of nationals (median age 34.4 years compared with 41.5 years).
Among the EU27 Member States, the highest percentage of foreign citizens in the population was observed in Luxembourg (43% of the total population), followed by Latvia (17%), Estonia and Cyprus (both 16%).
High proportion of foreign citizens in Latvia and Estonia is due to a bizarre situation where large numbers of residents of these countries have no official citizenship due to discriminatory (in my view) practices against people of non-Latvian and Estonian ethnicity. As Eurostat notes: “In the case of Latvia and Estonia, the proportion of non-EU foreign citizens is particularly large due to the high number of ‘recognised non-citizens’, mainly former Soviet Union citizens, who are permanently resident in these countries but have not acquired Latvian/Estonian citizenship or any other citizenship. The foreign-born would include people who were born in other parts of the former Soviet Union." It is worth noting that many of these 'non-citizens' have resided in these countries all their lives and many were actually born inside the borders of these countries. Despite this, the EU largely overlooks the issue of their rights within Latvia and Estonia, even though outside these countries, they are accorded the same rights as EU nationals.
The percentage of foreign citizens was less than 2% in Poland, Lithuania and Slovakia.
In terms of citizenship, nearly 40% of the EU foreign population were citizens of another EU27 Member State, with the highest shares in Luxembourg (86% of the foreign population), Ireland (80%), Belgium (68%), Cyprus (66%), Slovakia (62%) and Hungary (59%). A third of the foreign-born population were born in another EU27 Member State.
Since citizenship can change over time, it is interesting to complement this information with data on the foreign-born population. They include foreign citizens who have acquired the citizenship of the country of residence, but who were born abroad, plus nationals born abroad (for example in the territory of a former colony) or nationals born in a part of a state which, due to dissolution or border changes, no longer belongs to the same country.
The number of foreign-born people exceeded the number of foreign citizens in all Member States, except in Luxembourg, Latvia and the Czech Republic.
In 2010, there were 47.3 million foreign-born people living in the EU27, with 16.0 million born in another EU27 Member State and 31.4 million born in a country outside the EU27. In total, foreign-born people accounted for 9.4% of the total population of the EU27.
Data on the place of birth of the foreign-born population show that one third of foreign-born people living in the EU27 were born in another EU27 Member State, with proportions above 50% being observed in Luxembourg (83% of total foreign-born), Ireland (77%) and Hungary (67%).