Acquisition of citizenship statistics

Data extracted in May 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: May 2017.

This article presents recent statistics on the acquisition of citizenship in the European Union (EU).

In 2014, 889 100 people obtained citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, a decrease of 9 % compared with 2013. This decline occurred after two consecutive years of increase. The main contribution to the decrease at EU level came from the United Kingdom (81 900 fewer persons were granted British citizenship than in 2013), followed by Spain (-19 900), Belgium (-16 000), Greece (-8 600) and Sweden (-6 700).

Most new citizenships in 2014 were granted by Spain (205 900 or 23 % of the EU-28 total), Italy (129 900 or 15 %), the United Kingdom (125 600 or 14 %), Germany (110 600 or 12 %) and France (105 600 or 12 %).

Of those acquiring citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, 88 % had previously been citizens of non-EU countries. Of these, citizens of Morocco made up the highest numbers, followed by citizens of Albania, Turkey, India and Ecuador.

Figure 1: Number of persons having acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State, EU-28, 2009–14 (1 000)
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Table 1: Total number of acquisitions of citizenship in the EU-28 and EFTA, 2009-2014 (1 000)
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Figure 2: Five main EU-28 Member states granting citizenship, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Figure 3: Acquisitions of citizenship, relative change, EU-28 and EFTA, 2014-2013
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Figure 4: Acquisitions of citizenship per 1000 persons, EU-28 and EFTA, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq) and (migr_pop1ctz)
Figure 5: Naturalisation rate (acquisition of citizenship per 100 resident foreigners), 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)and (migr_pop1ctz)
Table 2: Acquisitions of citizenship by group of previous citizenship in the EU-28 and EFTA, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Table 3: Main countries of previous EU and non-EU citizenships of persons acquiring citizenship in the EU-28 and EFTA countries, 2014 (in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the total EU/ non-EU previous citizenships of persons acquiring citizenship)
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Table 4: Thirty main countries of previous citizenship, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Table 5: Gender and age distribution of persons acquiring citizenship in the EU-28 and EFTA, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Figure 6: Distribution by gender and age of persons acquiring citizenship in the EU-28, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)

Main statistical findings

EU-28 Member States granted citizenship to around 889 100 persons in 2014

In 2014, 889 100 people obtained citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, a decrease of 9 % compared with 2013. This was mainly caused by the decreases in absolute terms in the United Kingdom (81 900 fewer persons were granted British citizenship than in 2013), followed by Spain (19 900), Belgium (16 000), Greece (8 600) and Sweden (6 700). By contrast, the largest increases in absolute terms were observed in Italy (29 200 more persons were granted Italian citizenship compared with 2013), followed by France (8 300) and Netherlands (6 800 more).

The top five citizenship-granting countries accounted for 76 % of new citizenships granted in the EU in 2014: Spain (205 900 or 23 %), followed by Italy (129 900 or 15 %), the United Kingdom (125 600 or 14 %), Germany (110  600 or 12 %) and France (105 600 or 12 %).

The highest relative decreases were seen in Belgium (down by 46 %) and the United Kingdom (down by 40 %). By contrast, the highest relative increases of more than 100 % were recorded in Denmark (up by 171 %) and the Czech Republic (up by 126 %).

In relation to the population, the highest number of citizenships were granted by Luxembourg (5.8 per thousand persons) followed by Ireland (4.6), Sweden (4.5) and Spain (4.4). (See figure 4)

An indicator commonly used to measure the effect of national policies on citizenship is the "naturalisation rate" or ratio of the total number of citizenships granted over the stock of non-national population in a country at the beginning of the year. It is important to note that changes in naturalisation rates can also be attributed to changes in the non-national population and in the way the non-national population is measured (see Data sources and availability).

In 2014, in the EU-28 as a whole, 2.6 per hundred non-national citizens were granted citizenship. The country with the highest naturalisation rate was Sweden (6.3 per hundred), followed by Hungary (6.2) and Portugal (5.3). The lowest naturalisation rates were found in Slovakia (0.4). Other countries with naturalisation rates under 1.0 were Latvia (0.7), Austria (0.7), Estonia (0.8) and Lithuania (0.9). (See figure 5)

Of the five EU-28 countries that granted the most citizenships, the rate was above the EU-28 average in Spain (4.4) and Italy (2.6). The rates were below the EU-28 average in France (2.5), the United Kingdom (2.5) and Germany (1.6).

A third of new EU citizens were Moroccans, Albanians, Turks, Indians, Ecuadorians, Colombians and Pakistanis

About 88 % of those who acquired citizenship of an EU-28 Member State in 2014 were previously citizens of a non-EU country. This means that 784 800 non-EU-28 citizens residing in the EU-28 acquired an EU citizenship in 2014, a 10 % decrease with respect to 2013. These new EU-28 citizens were mainly from Africa (29 % of the total number of citizenships acquired), North and South America (21 %), Asia (20 %) and Europe (outside of the EU:18 %). Citizens of EU-28 Member States who acquired citizenship of another EU-28 Member State amounted to 95 700 persons, thus accounting for 11 % of the total.

Only in Luxembourg, Hungary and Malta were the majority of new citizenships granted to citizens of another EU Member State. In the case of Luxembourg, Portuguese citizens accounted for the largest share, followed by Italian, French, Belgian and German citizens; In the case of Hungary EU nationals acquiring citizenship were almost exclusively Romanians; While in the case of Malta, British citizens accounted for the largest share.

Viewed in terms of original citizenship, as in previous years, the largest groups were Moroccans (92 700, or 10.4 %), followed by Albanians (41 000, or 4.6 %), Turks (37 500, or 4.2 %), Indians (35 300, or 4.0 %), Ecuadorians (34 800, or 3.9 %), Colombians (27 800, or 3.1 %) and Pakistanis (25 100, or 2.8 %). The majority of Moroccans acquired citizenship of Spain (38 %), Italy (31 %) or France (20 %), while more than half of the Albanians received Italian citizenship (52 %) and almost the other half Greek citizenship(45 %). More than half of the Turks received German citizenship (60 %) and a large majority of Indians (64 %) received British citizenship. The overwhelming majority of Ecuadorians (94 %) and Colombians (90 %) were granted citizenship in Spain. Around half of the Pakistanis acquired British citizenship (52 %).

Romanians were the eighth largest citizenship of origin in 2014, increasing by 5.7 % (from 23 000 in 2013 to 24 300 in 2014). Grants of citizenship declined for five of the highest six citizenships of origin: for Albanians by 2 %, for Turks by 19 %, for Indians by 27 %, for Ecuadorians by 16 % and for Colombians by 34 %; and increased for one of the highest six citizenships of origin: for Moroccans by 6 %.

In addition to Romania, among the thirty main countries of previous citizenship there is another EU-28 country whose citizens acquired citizenship of another EU country: Poland. In absolute terms, most Romanians acquiring citizenship became citizens of Hungary (6 200 persons) and Italy (6 400 persons), more than half of the acquisitions of citizenship by Poles were in the United Kingdom (3 200 persons) and Germany (6 000).

Half of those changing citizenship were aged 32 or less

The distribution by gender shows a slight predominance of women (52 % against 48 % men) (see table 5). Acquisitions of citizenship by women outnumbered acquisitions by men in all but seven of Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia). The highest proportions of citizenship acquisitions by women were recorded in Croatia (61 %) and Iceland (60 %). The country with the highest share of acquisitions by men was Slovenia (59 %).

Observed by age, there are two distinct peaks in terms of the predominance of acquisitions by women: one in the age group 20-34 and another slight peak among those aged 50-64.

In 2014, the median age of persons acquiring citizenship in the whole of the EU was 32. The Member State with the lowest median age was Denmark; half of its new citizens were younger than 24. The highest median age (38) was in Lithuania.

Age distribution varied from one Member State to another due to differences in citizenship legislation and age structure of the non-national population (see Data sources and availability). However, the common feature uniting all Member States was that most new citizenships were acquired by younger people, and that the numbers declined with age.

In 2014, more than a third of persons granted citizenship of an EU-28 country were younger than 25 years and nearly half aged 25 to 44, while those aged 55 or over accounted for less than 7 %.

The proportion of citizenship acquisitions by children was highest in France (33 %), Austria (32 %) and Belgium (31 %) and lowest in Bulgaria (5 %). In Lithuania and Luxembourg, no children were granted citizenship.

Malta accounted for the highest share of grants of citizenship to persons aged 65 or older (9.6 %), followed by Greece (8.9 %). The lowest shares of elderly new citizens were recorded in Ireland (0.6 %), Austria (0.5 %) and Slovenia (0.3 %).

Data sources and availability

Data on acquisitions of citizenship are collected by Eurostat under the provisions of Article 3.1.(d) of Regulation 862/2007 on migration statistics, stating that: "Member States shall supply to the Commission (Eurostat) statistics on the numbers of (…) persons having their usual residence in the territory of the Member State and having acquired during the reference year the citizenship of the Member State and having formerly held the citizenship of another Member State or a third country or having formerly been stateless, disaggregated by age and sex, and by the former citizenship of the persons concerned and by whether the person was formerly stateless."

The collection of data on acquisition of citizenship is defined by Regulation 862/2007 and breakdowns and composition of the EU, EFTA and candidate countries groups are given in the implementing Regulation 351/2010.

The EU-28 aggregates for 2012, 2011 and 2010 include Romanian data for 2009.

For reference year 2014, age definition is only reached for Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Switzerland; age definition is only completed for Germany, Greece, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom; and both age definitions are available for Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.

Age reached: at the end of the year.

Age completed: at the last birthday.

Citizenship: the particular legal bond between an individual and his or her State, acquired by birth or naturalisation, whether by declaration, choice, marriage or other means according to the national legislation. International law does not provide detailed rules, but it recognises the competence of every state in cases like: spouses of citizens, minors adopted by citizens, descendants of citizens born abroad returning to the country of origin of their ancestors, etc. Countries differ considerably in terms of the conditions to be fulfilled to acquire citizenship: in general a period of legally registered residence is required, combined with other factors such as evidence of social and economic integration and knowledge of national languages. Different conditions may apply for persons who were born in the country concerned (jus soli), or who have parents or other relatives with that country's citizenship (jus sanguinis).

Detailed information on the different modes of acquisition of citizenship in force in different countries can be found at the EUDO Citizenship website.

The category recognised non-citizen is particularly relevant in the Baltic States.

Context

Within the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Home Affairs is responsible for immigration policy. In 2005, the European Commission relaunched the debate on the need for a common set of rules for the admission of economic migrants with a Green paper on an EU approach to managing economic migration (COM(2004) 811 final) which led to the adoption of a policy plan on legal migration (COM(2005) 669 final) at the end of 2005. In July 2006, the European Commission adopted a Communication on policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals (COM(2006) 402 final), which aims to strike a balance between security and an individuals’ basic rights during all stages of the illegal immigration process. In September 2007, the European Commission presented its third annual report on migration and integration (COM(2007) 512 final). A European Commission Communication adopted in October 2008 emphasised the importance of strengthening the global approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies (COM(2008) 611 final) as an aspect of external and development policy. The Stockholm programme, adopted by EU heads of state and government in December 2009, sets a framework and series of principles for the ongoing development of European policies on justice and home affairs for the period 2010 to 2014; migration-related issues are a central part of this programme. In order to bring about the changes agreed upon, the European Commission enacted an action plan implementing the Stockholm programme – delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe’s citizens (COM(2010) 171 final) in 2010.

In May 2013, the European Commission published the 'EU Citizenship Report 2013'. The Report notes that 'EU citizenship brings citizens new rights and opportunities. Moving and living freely within the EU is the right they associate most closely with EU citizenship. Given modern technology and the fact that it is now easier to travel, freedom of movement allows Europeans to expand their horizons beyond national borders, to leave their country for shorter or longer periods, to come and go between EU countries to work, study and train, to travel for business or for leisure, or to shop across borders. Free movement increases social and cultural interactions within the EU and creates closer bonds between Europeans. In addition, it generates mutual economic benefits for businesses and citizens, including those who remain at home, as the EU steadily removes internal obstacles.

The European Commission presented a European Agenda on Migration outlining the immediate measures that will be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years to better manage migration in all its aspects on 13 May 2015.

The European migration network annual report on immigration and asylum (2014) was published on 10 June 2015. It provides an overview of the main legal and policy developments taking place across the EU as a whole and within participating countries. It is a comprehensive document and covers all aspects of migration and asylum policy by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs and EU agencies.

Legislative documents- European Agenda on Migration [1]

Press materials- European Agenda on Migration [2]

See also

Further Eurostat information

Data visualisation

Publications

Main tables

International Migration and Asylum (t_migr)
Acquisition of citizenship (tps00024)

Database

International Migration and Asylum (migr)
Acquisition and loss of citizenship (migr_acqn)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

  • COM (2004) 811 Green Paper on an EU approach to managing economic migration
  • COM (2005) 669 Communication from the Commission - Policy Plan on Legal Migration
  • COM (2006) 402 Communication from the Commission on Policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals
  • COM (2007) 512 Communication from the Commission - Third Annual Report on Migration and Integration
  • COM (2008) 611 Communication from the Commission - Strengthening the global approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies
  • COM (2010) 171 Communication from the Commission - Delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe's citizens - Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme

External links