Migrant integration statistics - active citizenship
Data from March 2019.
Planned article update: April 2020.
EU Member States granted citizenship to around 825 000 persons in 2017, some 2.1 % of all foreign citizens in the EU.
In 2017, the highest naturalisation rate in the EU for people who were formerly non-EU citizens was recorded for children aged 10-14 years (7.7 %).
At the end of 2017, 54.4 % of non-EU citizens living in the EU held long-term residency permits.
Naturalisation rate of foreign citizens, EU-28, 2017 (%)
This article presents information for two key indicators in the area of active citizenship, which covers civic and political participation by migrants and the acquisition of equal rights and responsibilities by migrants. Both of these indicators are considered to be positive indications of migrant integration, and form part of a set of Zaragoza indicators that were agreed by European Union (EU) Member States in Zaragoza (Spain) during 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 residents who are non-EU citizens.
This article forms part of an online Eurostat publication — Migrant integration statistics.
Naturalisation rate: citizenship granted to 825 000 persons in EU
EU Member States granted citizenship to around 825 000 persons in 2017, representing 2.1 % of all foreign citizens in the EU
In 2017, some 825 000 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 and stateless and unknown citizenship categories. Citizens of non-EU Member States accounted for the overwhelming majority (81.5 %) of the total number of people granted the citizenship of an EU Member State in 2017. In order to put these figures into context, the total number of foreign citizens living across the EU-28 in 2017 numbered 38.7 million: of these, 21.6 million were non-EU citizens and 16.9 million were citizens of other EU Member States, leaving just less than 200 000 persons who were either stateless or whose citizenship was unknown.
The naturalisation rate is computed as the total number of people granted citizenship relative to the total number of foreign citizens living in a country; in 2017, this rate was 2.1 % across the EU-28 which was 0.6 percentage points lower than in 2016.
An analysis over time (note the change in the composition of the EU aggregate between 2013 and 2014) is shown in Figure 1. During the period 2009-2017, the EU’s naturalisation rate for foreign citizens (including stateless and unknown citizenship categories) ranged between 2.1 % and 2.9 %. A relative peak was recorded in 2013, which 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 rate was recorded in the latest year for which data are available, as the naturalisation rate fell between 2016 and 2017 from 2.7 % to 2.1 %.
The naturalisation rate for non-EU citizens was 3.1 %, higher than the rate for citizens of other EU Member States which stood at 0.8 %
In 2017, the EU-28 naturalisation rate for people who were formerly non-EU citizens was 3.1 %, which was almost four times as high as the rate recorded for people who were formerly citizens of another EU Member State (0.8 %). Figure 1 shows that the EU’s naturalisation rate for people who were formerly non-EU citizens was consistently higher than the rate recorded for people who were formerly citizens of other EU Member States throughout the period under consideration.
In absolute terms, Italy recorded the highest number of migrants being granted citizenship, with 147 000 foreign citizens becoming Italian in 2017, while 123 000 foreign citizens acquired the citizenship of the United Kingdom. Germany and France were the only other EU Member States that granted citizenship to more than 100 000 foreign citizens (respectively 115 000 and 114 000). At the other end of the range, the three Baltic Member States, Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta, Slovenia and Slovakia each granted their citizenship to fewer than 2 000 people.
In 2017, the highest naturalisation rates for all foreign citizens were recorded in Sweden (8.1 %), Romania (5.9 %) and Finland (5.0 %). By contrast, there were six EU Member States where the naturalisation rate for foreign citizens was less than 1.0 %; the three Baltic Member States, Czechia, Austria and Slovakia, with the lowest rate recorded in Estonia (0.4 %).
In 2017, some 81.5 % of people who acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State were formerly non-EU citizens, while 16.7 % were formerly citizens of another EU Member State; the residual share of 1.8 % was composed of stateless persons and people whose former citizenship was unknown.
Figure 2 provides a more detailed analysis and reveals that Latvia and Hungary were the only EU Member States in 2017 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. Latvia also recorded the highest naturalisation rate for people who were formerly citizens of another EU Member State (4.3 %) and was followed by Sweden (3.7 %) and Hungary (2.6 %). 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 2017, naturalisation rates for people who were formerly non-EU citizens reached a peak in Cyprus (14.4 %) and Romania (10.7 %) while it was lowest — below 1.0 % — in Czechia, Latvia and Estonia. In eight of the EU 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, Lithuania and Spain.
The EU-28 naturalisation rate was slightly higher for women than men
In 2017, the EU-28’s naturalisation rate for foreign citizens was 0.2 percentage points higher for women (2.2 %) than it was for men (2.0 %). Looking at developments during the period 2009-2017 (note the change in the composition of the EU aggregate between 2013 and 2014), a slightly higher female naturalisation rate was recorded each year (see Figure 3); the gender gap in favour of women fluctuated between 0.14 and 0.35 percentage points during the period under consideration.
A more detailed analysis of the situation in 2017 is presented in Figure 4, which confirms the results observed for the EU-28 insofar as the female naturalisation rate for all foreign citizens was higher than the male naturalisation rate in all but five of the EU Member States; the exceptions — with higher naturalisation rates for men — were Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Latvia while in the United Kingdom the rates were almost identical. There was often little difference in terms of naturalisation rates between the sexes, with only three Member States recording gender gaps that were greater than 1.0 percentage points; Romania (8.6 points), Sweden (1.6 points) and Finland (1.2 points) each had higher naturalisation rates for women than for men.
The highest naturalisation rates were generally recorded among young people
Figure 5 presents information pertaining to naturalisation rates for foreign citizens with an analysis by age. In 2017, the highest naturalisation rates in the EU-28 for people who were formerly non-EU citizens were recorded for people aged 10-14 years, with a female naturalisation rate for this age group equal to 7.7 %, while the male naturalisation rate was slightly lower at 7.5 %. The next highest rates for people who were formerly non-EU citizens were recorded for women aged 15-19 years (5.8 %) and for men and women aged 5-9 years (both 5.0 %).
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 673 000 non-EU citizens who acquired the citizenship of one of the EU Member States in 2017, the largest group was composed of people aged 35-39 years (82 000), closely followed by people aged 30-34 years (79 000). Otherwise, people aged 10-14 years and 40-44 years also accounted for relatively high numbers of non-EU citizens acquiring the citizenship of an EU Member State — 73 000 and 62 000 respectively. Figure 5 also confirms that naturalisation rates were generally much higher among non-EU citizens rather than among people who were formerly citizens of another EU Member State.
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 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 (but not a renewal) long-term residence permit issued during the course of the reference year, in other words, the flow of new residence permits.
Non-EU citizens holding long-term residency rights can thereafter 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 (Council Directive 2003/109/EC) and long-term residence status as provided by national legislation. Note that some of the EU Member States — for example, Germany — only introduced the latter of these two categories in 2016, which limits the conclusions that may be drawn from any time-series analysis. As such, this article focuses on the latest information available.
Long-term residence permits valid at the end of the year
Table 2 shows that at the end of 2017 there were 12.6 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 2017 those with long-term residency rights accounted for 54.4 % 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) and the United Kingdom (not comparable).
Around 9 out of every 10 non-EU citizens resident in Latvia and Estonia had long-term residency
At the end of 2017, there was a considerable difference between EU Member States concerning the share of resident non-EU citizens with a long-term residence permit. Long-term residency accounted for more than half of the total number of non-EU citizens holding a residence permit in 9 of the 26 Member States for which data are available (no information for Denmark and the United Kingdom), with this share around nine tenths for non-EU citizens living in Latvia (91.5 %) and Estonia (86.2 %). 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 a majority of the EU Member States 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 %), Ireland (1.2 %) and Finland (0.7 %), where the smallest proportion of non-EU citizens enjoyed the benefits associated with long-term residency.
At the end of 2017, almost all ‘recognised non-citizens’ in the EU held long-term residence status
The focus of Figure 6 concerns those non-EU countries whose citizens recorded the highest shares of long-term residency rights; note that the information presented excludes data for non-EU citizens living in Denmark and the United Kingdom and that the figure only shows information for countries whose citizens had long-term resident shares in the EU that were over 60.0 %.
Almost all (97.9 %) recognised non-citizens — most of whom were living in Estonia and Latvia and originated from the former Soviet Union — had long-term residency rights. This was the highest share recorded at the end of 2017 for any group of non-EU citizens, while at least four out of every five citizens living in the EU from Algeria, Laos, San Marino and Cambodia also 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 from Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, North Macedonia or Moldova), whereas others were from much further afield (for example, citizens of Ecuador, Dominica, Seychelles or Sri Lanka).
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 enjoying long-term residency status at the end of 2017 (note again that the information presented excludes data for non-EU citizens living in Denmark and the United Kingdom).
The highest number of non-EU citizens holding long-term residency rights in the EU was recorded among citizens of Turkey (1.5 million), followed by citizens of Morocco (1.2 million), while there were also more than half a million citizens from Algeria with such rights.
The second half of Table 3 provides more information on where the share of long-term residents from each of these countries was highest: for example, at the end of 2017, at least three quarters of all Turkish citizens resident in Germany, Bulgaria and France held long-term residency status, while the same was true for at least three quarters of the Moroccan citizens living in France, Algerian citizens living in Italy and France, Chinese citizens living in Cyprus, Russian citizens living in Latvia and Estonia, recognised non-citizens living in Czechia, Estonia and Latvia, Serbian citizens living in Italy and France, or Tunisian citizens living in Cyprus and France. By contrast, in Ireland and Finland less than one quarter of citizens from each of the 10 countries featured in Table 3 were considered as long-term residents.
Long-term residence permits issued during the year
Looking in more detail at the latest figures for 2017, Figure 7 shows that among the 21 EU Member States for which data are available, there were 606 000 new long-term residence permits issued during 2017. To give some context to this figure, it was equivalent to 8 % of the total number of non-EU citizens who enjoyed long-term residency status in the same Member States (excluding Denmark).
During 2017, France issued by far the highest number of long-term residence permits to non-EU citizens, some 261 000. This figure was approximately 2.5 times as high as the number of long-term residence permits that were issued in Italy (103 000), while the next highest numbers of such permits issued were recorded for Spain (69 000) and Sweden (53 000). By contrast, fewer than one thousand long-term residence permits were issued to non-EU citizens in each of Croatia, Ireland and Finland.
Figure 8 provides an analysis of the number of newly issued long-term residence permits, by legal framework. In 2017, all of the new long-term permits in Italy, Romania and Finland were issued under the EU’s legislative framework, whereas the opposite was true in Denmark and Ireland (where all permits were issued according to national legislation). In France, which had by far the highest number of newly issued long-term residence permits, the overwhelming share (96.1 %) of new permits were 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 residence refer only to non-EU citizens.
Acquisition of citizenship data for 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 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). More information and country-specific issues are presented in the online metadata related for this data collection.
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 foreigners (and not just those 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 is based around 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.
Data on residence permits are available from the 2008 reference year 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. The data are collected under Article 6 of the Regulation (EC) No 0862/2007, which refers to statistics on residence permits for non-EU citizens.
There are some limitations when computing the share of long-term residents in the total number of non-EU citizens. Statistics on residence permits are not computed for the United Kingdom as their definition differs considerably, and comparability with other countries may also be limited. Some issues also affect a range of other EU Member States, including Greece, Cyprus and the Netherlands; the online metadata related to this data collection provides more information.
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 the Regulation (EC) No 0862/2007; this data set 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 non-EU citizens whose permits were renewed.
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. This flow of migrants can lead to a range of new skills and talents being introduced into local labour markets and 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; this work may be followed through an online tool that seeks to monitor the progress being made in relation to its implementation. Among the actions foreseen the plan seeks to address active participation and social inclusion to promote intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and social inclusion.
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.
Tables in this article use the following notation:
|Value in italics||data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;|
|:||not available, confidential or unreliable value;|
For detailed information about EU policies on migrant integration, refer to migrant integration statistics introduced.
- Migrant integration, see:
- Active citizenship (mii_actctz)
- Long-term residents among all non-EU citizens holding residence permits by citizenship on 31 December (%) (migr_resshare)
- Residents who acquired citizenship as a share of resident non-citizens by former citizenship and sex (migr_acqs)
- Asylum and managed migration (migr)
- Residence permits (migr_res)
- Residence permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship (migr_resval)
- 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)
- Residence permits (migr_res)
- Demography and migration (demo)
- 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)
- Population (demo_pop)