Migrant integration statistics - active citizenship
Data from March 2021.
Planned article update: March 2022.
EU Member States granted citizenship to 706 000 persons in 2019, some 2.0 % of all foreign citizens in the EU.
In 2019, the highest naturalisation rates in the EU were recorded for children aged 10-14 years: 4.6 % for girls and 4.5 % for boys.
At the end of 2019, 51.0 % of non-EU citizens living in the EU held long-term residency permits.
Naturalisation rate of foreign citizens, 2019 (%)
Active citizenship covers civic and political participation by migrants and the acquisition of equal rights and responsibilities by migrants. This article presents information for two key indicators: both are considered to be positive indications of migrant integration and they form part of a set of Zaragoza indicators that were agreed by European Union (EU) Member States in Zaragoza (Spain) in April 2010. More specifically, the article presents Eurostat statistics on:
- the naturalisation rate, calculated as the share of foreign citizens acquiring the citizenship of an EU Member State relative to the total number of foreign citizens resident in the same Member State;
- the share of non-EU citizens — also known as third-country citizens — having long-term residency status, calculated as the number of long-term (at least five years) residents who are non-EU citizens relative to the total number of non-EU citizens holding residency rights.
This article forms part of an online Eurostat publication — Migrant integration statistics.
EU Member States granted citizenship to 706 000 persons in 2019, representing 2.0 % of all foreign citizens in the EU
In 2019, some 706 000 foreign citizens acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State. This total figure covers not only migrants who were non-EU citizens but also migrants who were citizens of other EU Member States as well as stateless and unknown citizenship categories. Citizens of non-EU Member States accounted for the overwhelming majority (84.7 %) of the total number of people granted the citizenship of an EU Member State in 2019.
In order to put these figures into context, the total number of foreign citizens living across the EU in 2019 numbered 35.1 million. Among these, excluding Cyprus and Malta for which detailed population data by citizenship are not available, 21.6 million were non-EU citizens and 13.1 million were citizens of other EU Member States. Out of the total number of foreign citizens living across the EU, 161 000 persons were either stateless or their citizenship was unknown.
The naturalisation rate is calculated as the total number of people granted citizenship relative to the total number of foreign citizens living in a country. In 2019, this rate was 2.0 % across the EU which was the same as in 2018.
A longer analysis over time (note the change in the composition of the EU aggregate between 2012 and 2013) is shown in Figure 1. During the period 2009-2019, the EU’s naturalisation rate for foreign citizens (including stateless and unknown citizenship categories) ranged between 2.0 % and 2.7 %. Relative peaks were recorded in 2013 and 2016: the former may be attributed (at least in part), to a sudden increase in the number of people who became Spanish citizens that year (more than doubling between 2012 and 2013, as the number of people acquiring Spanish citizenship increased from 94 100 to 225 800). The lowest rates were recorded in the latest years for which data are available, as the naturalisation rate fell between 2017 and 2018 from 2.1 % to 2.0 % and remained there in 2019; this was the same rate (2.0 %) as had been recorded in 2009, in other words at the start of the time series shown in Figure 1.
In absolute terms, Germany recorded the highest number of migrants being granted citizenship in 2019, with 132 000 foreign citizens becoming German, while 127 000 foreign citizens acquired the citizenship of Italy and 110 000 the citizenship of France. The only other EU Member States that granted citizenship to more than 50 000 foreign citizens were Spain (99 000) and Sweden (64 000). At the other end of the range, the three Baltic Member States, Slovenia, Denmark, Croatia, Malta, Bulgaria and Slovakia each granted their citizenship to fewer than 2 000 people. Lithuania granted citizenship to the lowest number (117) of foreign citizens in 2019.
In 2019, the highest naturalisation rates for all foreign citizens were recorded in Sweden (6.9 %), Romania (4.7 %) and Portugal (4.4 %). By contrast, there were ten EU Member States where the naturalisation rate for foreign citizens was less than 1.0 %: the three Baltic Member States, Ireland, Malta, Slovakia, Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia and Denmark; the lowest rate was recorded in Lithuania (0.2 %).
The naturalisation rate for non-EU citizens was 2.8 %, considerably higher than the rate for citizens of other EU Member States which stood at 0.7 %
In 2019, some 84.7 % of people who acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State were formerly non-EU citizens, while 12.9 % were formerly citizens of another EU Member State; the residual share of 2.4 % was composed of stateless persons and people whose former citizenship was unknown.
The naturalisation rate for people who were formerly non-EU citizens was 2.8 % in the EU (excluding data for Cyprus and Malta) in 2019, which was four times as high as the rate recorded for people who were formerly citizens of another EU Member State (0.7 %).
Figure 2 provides a more detailed analysis and reveals that Hungary and Latvia were the only EU Member States in 2019 to record a higher naturalisation rate among people who were formerly citizens of another Member State than for people who were formerly non-EU citizens. In eight of the Member States, the naturalisation rate for people who were formerly non-EU citizens was at least 10 times as high as the rate for citizens of another EU Member State, with this difference particularly large in Romania and Estonia.
Hungary (3.2 %) and Latvia (1.6 %) also recorded the first and fourth highest naturalisation rates for people who were formerly citizens of another EU Member State, with Sweden (2.7 %) and Finland (1.7 %) between them. By contrast, the naturalisation rate for people who were formerly citizens of other Member States was less than 1.0 % in 19 of the Member States.
In 2019, naturalisation rates for people who were formerly non-EU citizens were highest in Romania, Sweden (both 8.6 %), Portugal (5.9 %) and Belgium (5.7 %), while they were lowest — below 1.0 % — in Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark and the Baltic Member States.
The EU naturalisation rate was slightly higher for females than for males
In 2019, the EU’s naturalisation rate for foreign citizens was 0.2 percentage points higher for women (2.1 %) than it was for men (1.9 %). Looking at developments during the period 2014-2019 (see Figure 3) a slightly higher female naturalisation rate was recorded each year; the gender gap in favour of women fluctuated between 0.18 and 0.27 points during this period.
A more detailed analysis of the situation in 2019 is presented in Figure 4, which confirms the results observed for the EU insofar as the female naturalisation rate for all foreign citizens was higher than the male naturalisation rate in the majority of the EU Member States. By contrast, higher naturalisation rates for males were recorded in Bulgaria and Greece, while in Sweden, Latvia and Ireland the rates for the two sexes were almost identical. Only two Member States recorded gender gaps that were 1.0 percentage points or more: in Finland and Croatia, the rates for females were 1.4 and 1.1 points higher respectively than the rate for males.
The highest naturalisation rates were generally recorded among young people
Figure 5 presents information pertaining to an analysis by age of naturalisation rates for foreign citizens. In 2019, the highest naturalisation rates in the EU were recorded for people aged 10-14 years, with a female naturalisation rate for this age group equal to 4.6 %, while the male naturalisation rate was slightly lower at 4.5 %. The next highest rates were recorded for people aged 15-19 years, with rates of 4.0 % for young women and 3.5 % for young men.
While children tended to record the highest naturalisation rates, this does not necessarily mean that they accounted for the largest absolute number of people acquiring EU citizenship. A more detailed analysis of the absolute figures reveals that of the 706 000 foreigners who acquired the citizenship of one of the EU Member States in 2019, the largest group was composed of people aged 35-39 years (83 000), closely followed by people aged 30-34 years (77 000). People aged 40-44 years and 10-14 years accounted for the next highest numbers of non-EU citizens acquiring the citizenship of an EU Member State, 70 000 and 69 000 respectively.
Long-term residence permits for non-EU citizens
The data presented in the rest of this article refer exclusively to non-EU citizens (as opposed to foreign citizens of another EU Member State). The focus is on non-EU citizens who received a long-term residence permit for a minimum period of at least five years validity, thereby providing them with a more robust level of protection as regards their status.
The data presented cover two categories of individuals:
- non-EU citizens who held a long-term residence permit that was valid at the end of the year, in other words, the stock of long-term residence permits;
- non-EU citizens who received a new long-term residence permit issued during the course of the reference year (that was not a renewal), in other words, the flow of new long-term residence permits.
Long-term residence permits valid at the end of the year
Table 2 shows that at the end of 2019 there were 10.4 million non-EU citizens that held long-term residency rights across the EU (note this figure excludes information for Denmark). An estimate based on the latest available data suggests that at the end of 2019 those with long-term residency rights accounted for 51.0 % of all non-EU citizens living in the EU (those with and those without long-term residency rights); note this value excludes information for Denmark (not available).
More than four out of five non-EU citizens resident in Latvia and Estonia had long-term residency
At the end of 2019, there was a noticeable difference between EU Member States concerning the share of resident non-EU citizens with long-term residence permits. Long-term residents accounted for more than three fifths of the total number of non-EU citizens holding a residence permit in 6 of the 26 Member States for which data are available (no information for Denmark), with this share reaching 83.2 % in Estonia and 89.8 % in Latvia. Most long-term residents in Latvia and Estonia were classified as ‘recognised non-EU citizens’, a category that covers people who were neither citizens of the reporting country nor any other country, but who had established links to the country where they lived including some but not all of the rights and obligations of full citizenship.
By contrast, in 17 of the remaining 20 EU Member States for which data are available less than half of all non-EU citizens had long-term residency rights. This share was less than 10 % for non-EU citizens living in Malta (5.3 %) and Ireland (0.7 %), where the smallest proportion of non-EU citizens had the benefits associated with long-term residency.
At the end of 2019, almost all ‘recognised non-citizens’ in the EU held long-term residence status
The focus of Figure 6 is citizenship categories with the highest shares of long-term residency rights in the EU. Note that the information presented excludes data for non-EU citizens living in Denmark (not available) and that the figure only shows information concerning citizenship categories for which long-term resident shares in the EU were over 60.0 %.
Almost all (98.2 %) recognised non-citizens — most of whom were living in Estonia and Latvia and originated from the former Soviet Union — had long-term residency rights. At least four out of every five citizens living in the EU from Western Sahara, Algeria, Laos and Turkey had long-term residency rights. The non-EU citizens presented within this ranking were from a disparate set of countries, some being relatively close neighbours to the EU (for example, citizens of Turkey, San Marino, Andorra, Serbia or Moldova), whereas others were from much further afield (for example, citizens of Cambodia, Ecuador, Sri Lanka or Seychelles).
While the information presented in Figure 6 is based on a ranking of the share of non-EU citizens with long-term residency, Table 3 extends this analysis to focus on the absolute number of non-EU citizens holding long-term residency status in the EU. It shows the 10 most common groups of non-EU citizens with long-term residency status at the end of 2019 (note again that the information presented excludes data for non-EU citizens living in Denmark).
The highest number of non-EU citizens holding long-term residency rights in the EU at the end of 2019 was recorded among citizens of Turkey (1.5 million), followed by citizens of Morocco (1.2 million), while there were just over 600 000 citizens from Algeria with such rights, and around half a million citizens from each of China (including Hong Kong) and Ukraine.
Table 3 also provides more information on where the share of long-term residents from each of these groups of citizens was highest. For example, at the end of 2019, at least three quarters of all Turkish citizens resident in Bulgaria, Germany and France held long-term residency status, while the same was true for at least three quarters of the Algerian citizens living in Czechia, France and Italy, Chinese citizens living in Cyprus, Ukrainian citizens living in Germany, Russian citizens living in Germany, Estonia and Latvia, Serbian citizens living in Bulgaria, France and Italy, recognised non-citizens living in Bulgaria, Estonia and Latvia, or Tunisian citizens living in France and Poland. By contrast, in Ireland less than one quarter of citizens from each of the 10 groups of citizens featured in Table 3 were considered as long-term residents.
Long-term residence permits issued during the year
Looking at the data for 2019, Figure 7 shows that, among the 24 EU Member States for which data are available (no information for Czechia, Germany or the Netherlands), there were 544 000 new long-term residence permits issued during 2019. To give some context to this figure, it was equivalent to 7.1 % of the total number of non-EU citizens who enjoyed long-term residency status in the same Member States (excluding Denmark).
During 2019, among the 24 EU Member States for which data are available France issued by far the highest number of long-term residence permits to non-EU citizens, some 250 000. This figure was nearly four times as high as the number of long-term residence permits that were issued in Italy (66 000), while the next highest numbers of such permits issued were recorded for Spain (60 000), Austria (55 000) and Sweden (28 000). By contrast, fewer than one thousand long-term residence permits were issued to non-EU citizens in each of Estonia, Croatia, Romania, Malta, Lithuania, Ireland and Finland.
Figure 8 provides an analysis by legal framework  of the number of newly issued long-term residence permits. In 2019, all of the new long-term residence permits in Italy, Austria and Romania were issued under the EU’s legislative framework, as were nearly all of the newly issued long-term residence permits in Croatia. By contrast, the opposite was true in Denmark, Ireland, Malta and Finland, where all permits were issued according to national legislation , as was nearly the case in Cyprus, Lithuania, Sweden (2018 data) and Bulgaria. In France, which had by far the highest number of newly issued long-term residence permits, the overwhelming majority (97.1 %) of new permits were also issued according to national legislation.
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
The data presented in this article are from three datasets that are received on an annual basis by Eurostat from reporting countries, having been compiled from administrative records. Note that the indicators are based on different reference periods and that the reference population varies. For example, the naturalisation rate is based on all foreign citizens (including citizens of another EU Member State), while the data for long-term residency rights refer only to non-EU citizens.
Acquisition of citizenship data for the naturalisation rate
Data on the 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 onwards, acquisition of citizenship data analysed by sex, age group and previous citizenship are collected under Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 862/2007. Conditions for acquiring the citizenship of an EU Member State differ between countries, but often the requirements concern a period of (legally registered) residence combined with other factors such as evidence of social and economic integration, or an aptitude to speak the national language(s). The online metadata related to this data collection provides more information.
Naturalisation is one of the most common ways of acquiring citizenship. It is a formal act of granting citizenship to a foreign citizen who applies to be a citizen. International law does not set out detailed rules on naturalisation, but recognises the competence of every state to naturalise non-nationals.
The naturalisation rate is defined as the total number of foreign citizens resident in each EU Member State who acquired citizenship of that Member State during the calendar year, expressed as a share of the total number of resident foreigners at the beginning of the year. Note this rate should be analysed with some caution, as its numerator includes all modes of acquisition (and not just the naturalisation of eligible residing foreigners), while the denominator includes all resident foreigners (and not just resident foreigners who are eligible for naturalisation).
Share of long-term residence permits
Long-term residence status refers to permits issued under Directive 2003/109 concerning the status of non-EU citizens who are long-term residents. The definition concerns non-EU citizens who legally reside in an EU Member State for a period of at least five years; this is often combined with a series of other conditions that must be met.
From the 2008 reference year, data on residence permits are collected under Article 6 of Regulation (EC) No 862/2007, which refers to statistics on residence permits for non-EU citizens. Data are available for the EU Member States and EFTA countries. These data refer exclusively to non-EU citizens (rather than citizens of other EU Member States) who were issued with a residence permit. The statistics relate to the stock (total number) of non-EU citizens in possession of a long-term residence permit.
Long-term residence permits issued during the year
Data on the flow of new residence permits that were issued to non-EU citizens during the course of a year are collected on a voluntary basis within the framework provided by Article 6 of Regulation (EC) No 862/2007. This dataset is designed to complement the data collected on the stock of non-EU citizens having long-term residence status at the end of the reference period. Note that the information presented relates only to non-EU citizens who received a new long-term residence permit; the statistics shown do not take account of non-EU citizens already in possession of a permit, nor of non-EU citizens whose permits were renewed.
Tables in this article use the following notation:
- a value in italics is used to show where a data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
- a colon ‘:’ is used to show where data are not available (including confidential and unreliable values);
- a dash ‘—’ is used to show where data are not applicable.
The EU is a relatively diverse area and several of its Member States have traditionally been a destination for migrants, whether from elsewhere within the EU or elsewhere in the world. The flow of migrants can lead to a range of new skills and talents being introduced into local labour markets and can increase cultural diversity, while also raising concerns about integration.
Immigrant integration policies are a national competence across the EU. However, since the signature of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007, European institutions have the mandate to ‘provide incentives and support for the action of Member States with a view to promoting the integration of third-country nationals’. In June 2016, the European Commission launched an action plan for the integration of non-EU citizens. Among other actions, the plan seeks to address active participation and social inclusion in order to promote intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and social inclusion.
A new pact on migration and asylum was presented by the European Commission in September 2020. This sought to provide new tools for faster and more integrated procedures, a better management of the Schengen area and borders, as well as flexibility and crisis resilience. The new pact on migration and asylum sets out what is intended to be a fairer, more European approach to managing migration and asylum. It aims to put in place a comprehensive and sustainable policy, providing a humane and effective long-term response to the current challenges of irregular migration, developing legal migration pathways, better integrating refugees and other newcomers, and deepening migration partnerships with countries of origin and transit for mutual benefit.
In November 2020, an Action plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027 (COM(2016) 377 final) was adopted. It seeks to detail targeted and tailored support to reflect the individual characteristics that may present specific challenges to people with a migrant background, such as gender or religious background.
This article presents EU statistics in the area of active citizenship, covering the acquisition and exercising of equal rights/responsibilities for migrants, which are recognised as positive indications of migrant integration. The information presented is based on: a set of Council conclusions from 2010 on migrant integration; a subsequent study Indicators of immigrant integration — a pilot study from 2011; a report Using EU indicators of immigrant integration from 2013; and more recent data collection exercises, focusing on the naturalisation rate and the share of non-EU citizens having long-term residency status. The first of these indicators allows an analysis of migrant integration and/or recognition of the magnitude of the role that migrants play in host economies, while the second may be used to analyse the share of the migrant population living with a more protected residence status, with similar socioeconomic rights and responsibilities to those enjoyed by citizens of the host country.
For detailed information about EU policies on migrant integration, refer to migrant integration statistics introduced.
- Non-EU citizens holding long-term residency rights can be divided into two subcategories according to the legal framework under which they received their permit:
- long-term residency permits issued under the EU’s legislative framework concerning the status of non-EU citizens who are long-term residents (Directive 2003/109); and
- long-term residence status as provided by national legislation.
- As Denmark and Ireland do not implement Directive 2003/109, these Member States report statistics on long-term residents under the category for national long-term resident status.
Other statistical articles
- Active citizenship (mii_actctz)
- Long-term residents among all non-EU citizens holding residence permits by citizenship on 31 December (%) (migr_resshare)
- Residence permits (migr_res)
- Residence permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship (migr_resval)
- All valid permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship on 31 December of each year [migr_resvalid]
- Long-term residents by citizenship on 31 December of each year (migr_reslong)
- Long-term residence permits issued during the year (migr_resltr)
- Residence permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship (migr_resval)
- Population (demo_pop)
- Population on 1 January by age group, sex and citizenship (migr_pop1ctz)
- Acquisition and loss of citizenship (migr_acqn)
- Acquisition of citizenship by age group, sex and former citizenship (migr_acq)