Migrant integration statistics - active citizenship

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

This article presents two indicators of European Union (EU) statistics in the area of active citizenship [1] of the Zaragoza migrant integration indicators, on the basis of available Eurostat data[2] :

  • the Naturalisation rate (the share of foreign citizens [3] acquiring citizenship of an EU Member State in the total resident foreign citizens) as evidence of effective migrant integration and recognition in the hosting countries and
  • the share of long-term residence (the share of long-term residents in the total resident non-EU citizens) as indication of the migrant population with a safer residence status and, by extension, nearly the same socio-economic rights and responsibilities as nationals.

Together with other articles on this topic, this article forms an online Eurostat publication Migrant integration statistics.

Figure 1: Naturalisation rate by group of citizenship, EU, 2009-14
Source: Eurostat (migr_pop1ctz) and (migr_acq)
Table 1: Acquisition of citizenship and naturalisation rate by broad groups of former citizenships, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acqs), (migr_pop1ctz) and (migr_acq)
Figure 2: Naturalisation rate by broad groups of former citizenships, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acqs)
Figure 3: Naturalisation rate by sex, EU, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acqs) and (migr_pop1ctz)
Figure 4: Naturalisation rate by sex, 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_acqs)
Table 2: Long-term residents, and share among all non-EU citizens holding residence permits, 2011–15
Source: Eurostat (migr_reslong) and (migr_resshare)
Figure 5: Share of long-term residents among all non-EU citizens holding residence permits by permit type, EU-28, 2011–15
Source: Eurostat (migr_resvalid) and (migr_reslong)
Figure 6: Top citizenships with share of long-term residents higher than 30% at EU-28 level, 2015
Source: Eurostat (migr_resvalid) and (migr_reslong)
Table 3: Top 10 citizenships with long-term residence and destination countries by share of long-term residence permits in total residence permits, 2015
Source: Eurostat (migr_resvalid) and (migr_reslong)

Main statistical findings

Naturalisation rate

EU Member States granted citizenship to almost 0.9 million persons in 2014, representing 2.6% of all foreign citizens in the EU-28 Member States[4]

The acquisition of citizenship represents evidence of effective migrant integration and recognition in the hosting countries, offering them fully active citizenship rights. In 2014 around 890 thousand foreign citizens received citizenship of the hosting country out of 34 million total foreign citizens [5]residing in EU-28 Member States (see Table 1). The ratio between these two categories, defined as the naturalisation rate, was 2.6 % in 2014, slightly lower than the 3.0 % recorded in 2013 (see Figure 1 and Table 1).

The highest naturalisation rate of all foreign citizens at EU level in 2014 was recorded in Sweden with 6.3 %, followed by Hungary with 6.2 % and Portugal with 5.3 % (see Table 1). Rates of 4 % or more were also recorded in Spain, the Netherland, Finland and Poland. In contrast, Latvia and Austria with 0.7 % and Slovakia with 0.4 % recorded the lowest rates in the EU.

Three quarters of citizenship grants at the EU-28 level in 2014 were reported by five Member States: Spain (206 000), Italy (130 000), the United Kingdom (126 000), Germany (111 000) and France (106 000), while five Member States granted fewer than 1000 citizenships each: Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta, Slovakia and Lithuania (see Table 1).

Non-EU citizens recorded a naturalisation rate of 4.0 %, higher than the 0.7 % recorded by foreign EU-citizens

The category of all foreign citizens who acquired citizenship can be divided in two sub-categories depending on the prior citizenship: prior foreign EU-citizens (prior citizens of another EU Member State) and prior non-EU citizens. Considering these two subcategories, about nine out of ten of all foreign citizens who acquired citizenship of one of the EU-28 Member States in 2014 were previously non-EU citizens, while the remaining 10.8 % were previously citizens of another EU Member State. This corresponds to a naturalisation rate of 4.0 % for prior non-EU citizens, and 0.7 % for prior foreign EU citizens (see Figure 1 and Table 1).

The naturalisation rate of prior EU citizens increased slightly between 2010 and 2011 by 0.1 percentage point (pp), it remained stable in 2012 and 2013 and then decreased by 1.0 pp in 2014. (see Figure 1). The naturalisation rate of prior non-EU citizens recorded small fluctuations between 2009 and 2012, followed by an increase of 0.7 pp between 2012 and 2013 (from 3.7 % to 4.7 %) and by a decrease of 0.4 pp from 2013 to 2014.

Ireland with 10.5% and the Netherlands with 8.7 % were the two EU Member States which recorded the highest naturalisation rates of prior non-EU citizens, while other two Member States had a naturalisation rate above 7 %: Sweden (8.1 %) and Spain (7.5 %). The highest naturalisation rate for prior EU citizens was observed in Hungary (8.3 %), followed by Sweden (3.7 %), while Luxembourg, Malta, Finland and Latvia also presented naturalisation rates of at least 1.0 %.

Only Hungary and Latvia recorded a higher naturalisation rate for prior EU citizens than for prior non-EU citizens (see Table 1 and Figure 2).

The naturalisation rate of females at EU level is slightly higher than for males

The naturalisation rate of foreign citizens in 2014 at EU-28 level was 0.2 pp higher for females than for males (2.7 % and 2.5 % respectively). Looking at the evolution between 2009 and 2014 (see Figure 3), the pattern remained the same, with the naturalisation rate of females slightly higher than for males.

In 2014, Sweden recorded the highest naturalisation rate for foreign females with 7.1 % followed by Hungary with 6.8 %, and Portugal with 5.5 %. These three Member States also recorded the highest naturalisation rates for males, with 5.3 %, 5.8 % and 5.0 % respectively (see Figure 4).

The largest gap between the naturalisation rate of females and males was recorded in Sweden with 1.8 pp difference, followed by Poland (1.6 pp difference), Finland, Hungary, and Romania with about 1 pp each. In 2014, the naturalisation rate of males was higher than for females in five EU Member States: Denmark, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Italy and Greece, while in Denmark the male and female rates were very similar (see Figure 4).

Share of long-term residence of non-EU citizens

At the end of 2015 around 7.7 million non-EU citizens were long-term residents in the EU, representing more than 40% of all non-EU citizens with valid residence permits.

Non-EU citizens are usually granted a residence permit with a certain length of validity in the hosting country, depending on the national legal framework. A long-term residence permit is understood to have a length of validity of 5 years or more and consequently offers safer residence status to non-EU citizens and by extension, more similar socio-economic rights and responsibilities to nationals (advanced active citizenship rights). Around 7.7 million long-term residence permits were issued to non-EU citizens and were valid in the EU at the end of the year 2015, i.e., 12 % more than at the end of 2014 when 6.9 million long-term residence permits were valid (see Table 2).

The ratio between the number of long-term residents [6] and the total of residents with residence permits at the end of the year i.e. 'the share of long-term residents' was 40.9 % in 2015, slightly higher than in 2014 and 2013 (38.8 % and 36.3 % respectively).

Most non-EU citizens resident in Latvia and Estonia have long-term residence permits

The situation regarding the share of long-term permits among all valid residence permits differs at Member State level (see Table 2). In 2015, most non-EU citizens resident in Latvia and Estonia [7] had a long-term residence permit (more than 87 % in total residence permits for each country). Sweden, the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Lithuania, Slovenia and Spain also recorded a share of long-term residence in total residence permits above 50 %.

Croatia with 49 % Slovakia with 38 % and Luxembourg with 34% were the other Member States with a significant share of long-term permits, while two EU Member States (Germany and Finland) recorded a share under 0.5 % (see Table 2). Based on the available data, EFTA countries also recorded a significant share of long-term permits in total residence permits in 2015: Switzerland (64 %), Liechtenstein (62 %) and Iceland (44 %).

Considering the evolution between 2014 and 2015, Slovakia and Slovenia recorded the highest drop in the share of long-term permits with 4 pp less. Bulgaria (with a 28 pp increase) and Cyprus (with a 6 pp increase) registered the highest relative increase in terms of the share of long term residence permits. For the other Member States, the situation was more stable between these two years (see Table 2).

Latvia and Estonia maintained a share of long-term residence permits greater than 87 % every year between 2011 and 2015. Among the seven other Member States for which the share of long-term residence was higher than 50 % in 2015, four Member States (the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and Slovenia [8]) recorded an increase between 2011 and 2015, while the other two (Austria and Lithuania) recorded a decrease (see Table 2).

Between 2014 and 2015 the share of EU long-term residents decreased while the share of national long-term residents increased

The category of long-term residents [9] can be divided into two sub-categories considering the legal framework on which these permits were issued: EU long-term residents with long-term permits issued under the EU legislation framework (Council Directive 2003/109/EC on long-term permits) and National long-term residents, with long-term permits issued under specific national legislation. Considering these two categories, 'EU' long-term residents represented 37 % of the total of 7.7 million long-term residents at the end of 2015, while the remaining 63% were 'National' long-term residents (see Table 2 and Figure 5).

From 2011 to 2012 the increase in the share of long-term residents among all non-EU citizens with residence permits increased by 7.4 pp, with the share of EU long-term permits and National long-term permits growing 3.0 pp and 4.4 pp, respectively. While the share of EU long-term residents increased slowly by about 1.1 pp each year between 2012 and 2014 and decreased in 2015, the share of National long-term presented consecutive increments among the entire 2012-15 period.

Almost all recognised non-citizens in the EU at the end of 2015 held long-term residence status (97 %)

Figure 6 presents the share of long-term residence for nearly 40 different citizenships which recorded shares of long-term residence of over 30 % at EU level. Recognised non-citizens represent a special category of non-EU citizens, living mainly in Estonia and Latvia, having similar rights as nationals[10]. This explains a high share of long-term residents (97 %) of this category at EU level. Ecuador was the citizenship with the second highest share of long-term residents at EU-28 level with 67 %, followed by other seven citizenships with a significant share (with 50 % or greater): Somalia, Albania, Peru, stateless, Moldova, Nauru[11]and Burkina Faso (see Figure 6).

As shown in Table 3, there is diversity among Member States regarding the citizenships recording the highest numbers of long-term residence permits at Member State level. The shares vary by citizenship and by hosting country.

In 2015, 75 % or more of Moroccans (the citizenship with the highest number of long-term permits in the EU-28) had a long-term residence permit in the Netherlands. Non-EU residents with Moroccan citizenship had more than 25 % of their residents with long-term permits in at least 13 Member States. This was the case as well for China, Ukraine, and Russia. On the other hand, Recognised non-citizens, were only represented in Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic within the class of the higher share on long-term residents (> 75 %). India and Nigeria had shares between 75 % and 25 % of their residents with long long-term permits in 7 Member States.

With the exception of Recognised non-citizens and the United States, Italy and Spain issued long-term permits to at least 25 % of the foreign citizens of the other eight non-EU countries represented in Table 3. In the case of Sweden and the Czech Republic the situation was similar (including the United States and excluding India). On the other hand, in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, France, Portugal, Slovenia and Finland the share of long-term permits for each of these top 10 citizenships was under 25 %.

Data sources and availability

The data presented in this article are from two main datasets that are collected on an annual basis by Eurostat from administrative records in the reporting countries:

Acquisition of citizenship data for naturalisation rate

Data on acquisition of citizenship, available from 1998 onwards, are collected from EU Member States, EFTA and candidate countries and cover persons who were previously citizens of another country or stateless. From 2008 on, acquisition of citizenship data by sex, age group and previous citizenship are collected under Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 0862/2007.

The conditions for acquiring citizenship differ between countries. Generally, to acquire citizenship 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. More information and [country-specific issueshttp://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/metadata/Annexes/migr_acqn_esms_an4.docx country-specific issues] are present in the metadata file related to this data collection.

The ‘naturalisation rate’ should be used with caution because the numerator includes all modes of acquisitions and not just naturalisations of eligible residing foreigners and the denominator includes all foreigners and not the relevant population, in other words, those foreigners who are eligible for naturalisation.

Residence permits data for share of long-term residence

Data on residence permits are available from the 2008 reference year from the EU Member States and EFTA countries and refer to third-country nationals who received residence permits in the EU and EFTA countries. These statistics are collected under Article 6 of the Regulation (EC) No 0862/2007, which refers to statistics on residence permits and residence of third-country nationals.

There are some limitations in computing the share of long-term residents in resident non-EU citizens using the available statistics from residence permits statistics. For example, this share is not computed for the United Kingdom since their definition differs from the reference definition for the two involved datasets (the comparability with other countries is limited). Some issues appear also in other countries like the Netherlands, Cyprus or Greece for which the data consistency between the two datasets involved might be problematic for certain breakdowns. For more information see the respective metadata.


Long-term resident status refers to permits issued under Directive 0109/2003. This is based on a total duration of legal residence of 5 years or longer, combined with a series of other conditions that must be met to qualify for this status.


For detailed information about the EU policies on migrant integration and the context of data collection and statistical results, please refer to Migrant integration statistics introduced.

See also

Further Eurostat information



Active citizenship (mii_actctz)
Asylum and managed migration (mirg)
Residents permits (migr_res)
Demography and migration
Acquisition and loss of citizenship (migr_acqn)

Dedicated section

Migrant integration

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)

Other information

External links


  1. The term active citizenship refers to civic and political participation and to the acquisition and exercise of equal rights and responsibilities for immigrants which are recognised as positive indications of migrant integration.
  2. Each of these two indicators are computed using two different datasets each with their own quality and data availability issues. Moreover, each of these two indicators in this article have different reference years due to different collection frameworks (2014 for 'Naturalisation rate' and 2015 for 'Share of long-term residence) and different reference population (the naturalisation rate of all foreign citizens covers also the citizens of another EU Member State, while the data on long-term residence refer only to non-EU citizens).
  3. Foreign citizens refer to persons who are not citizens of the country in which they reside, including stateless persons. Two categories of foreign citizens are considered for data on acquisition of citizenship: 1) Citizens of another EU country (EU citizens) and 2) Citizens of a non-EU country (non-EU citizens).
  4. Please note that only the acquisition of citizenship of foreign citizens residing in the country granting the citizenship are the subject of this article.
  5. Stateless and unknown citizenship categories included.
  6. Residents with valid long-term residence.
  7. In the case of these two Member States the long-term residents are mostly 'recognised non-EU citizens' category. The recognised non-citizens are a citizenship category introduced by Eurostat to cover persons who are neither citizens of the reporting country nor of any other country, but who have established links to that country including some but not all rights and obligations of full citizenship. Recognised non-citizens are not included in the number of EU citizens. This category is used in Eurostat's population and migration statistics.
  8. Sweden was not taken into account due the 2015 break in the series.
  9. EU long-term residence is not applicable in Ireland, Denmark or the United Kingdom.
  10. With some exceptions related for instance to the exercise of EU rights like free travel within the Schengen area.
  11. Only 3 long-term permits in the EU-28.