Bulgaria granted citizenship to 1626 people in 2016, an increase of 28 per cent compared with 2015, European Union statistics agency Eurostat said on April 9 2018.
The top three recipients of Bulgarian citizenship in 2016 were Russians (30 per cent), Ukrainians (17.1 per cent) and citizens of Turkey (8.9 per cent), Eurostat said.
Bulgaria had a naturalisation rate of just more than two for every 100 resident foreigners, according to the report.
Eurostat said that in 2016, about 995 000 people acquired citizenship of a member state of the EU, up from 841 000 in 2015 and 889 000 in 2014.
Of the total number of people obtaining the citizenship of one of the EU member states in 2016, about 12 per cent were former citizens of another EU member state, while the majority were non-EU citizens or stateless.
The largest group acquiring citizenship of an EU member state where they lived in 2016 was citizens of Morocco (101 300 people, of whom 89 per cent acquired citizenship of Spain, Italy or France), ahead of citizens of Albania (67 500, 97 per cent acquired citizenship of Italy or Greece), India (41 700, almost 60 per cent acquired British citizenship), Pakistan (32 900, more than half acquired British citizenship), Turkey (32 800, almost half acquired German citizenship), Romania (29 700, 44 per cent acquired Italian citizenship), and Ukraine (24 000, 60 per cent acquired citizenship of Germany, Romania, Portugal or Italy).
Moroccans, Albanians, Indians, Pakistanis, Turks, Romanians, and Ukrainians represented together about a third (33 per cent) of the total number of people who acquired citizenship of an EU member state in 2016.
Romanians (29 700 people) and Poles (19 800) were the two largest groups of EU citizens acquiring citizenship of another EU member state.
The number of UK nationals acquiring citizenship of another EU member state more than doubled in 2016, Eurostat said.
All but three EU countries granted citizenship to more people in 2016 than they did in 2015.
The largest relative increase was in Croatia (in 2016, it granted citizenship to three times more people than in 2015 – an increase from 1196 people to 3973, or +232 per cent), in Greece (the number more than doubled from 13 933 to 33 210, or +138 per cent) and Malta (from 646 to 1 495, or +131 per cent).
The number of citizenships granted fell in three member states in 2016, with the largest decrease in Ireland (from 13 565 to 10 038 or -26 per cent).
Focusing on former citizenships for which at least 100 people acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State in 2016, the largest relative increase compared with 2015 was for the citizens of the UK (the number more than doubled from 2478 people in 2015 to 6555 people in 2016, or +165 per cent), nationals of Saudi Arabia (from 133 to 277, or +108 per cent), Nicaragua (from 715 to 1 423, or +99 per cent), Bhutan (from 72 to 143, or +99 per cent), and Paraguay (from 2046 to 3468, or +70 per cent).
The highest naturalisation rate was in Croatia and Sweden, Eurostat said.
The naturalisation rate is the ratio of the number of people who acquired the citizenship of a country during a year over the stock of foreign residents in the same country at the beginning of the year.
In 2016, the highest naturalisation rates were registered in Croatia (9.7 citizenships granted per 100 resident foreigners), Sweden (7.9) and Portugal (6.5), followed by Romania and Greece (both 4.2), Finland and Italy (both 4.1).
At the opposite end of the scale, naturalisation rates below one citizenship acquisition per 100 resident foreigners were recorded in Austria, Latvia and Slovakia (all 0.7), Estonia and Lithuania (0.9) and the Czech Republic (one), Eurostat said.
(Photo: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)