Eurostat: EU migrant flows intensified in 2021

In 2021, there were an estimated 2.3 million immigrants coming to the European Union from non-EU countries and about 1.1 million people from the EU who emigrated to a country outside the EU, the bloc’s statistics agency Eurostat said on March 29.

Data show an important increase compared with 2020 when an estimated 1.9 million immigrants to the EU from non-EU countries and about 956 000 people emigrated from the EU to a country outside the EU, Eurostat said.

In addition, 1.4 million people previously residing in one EU country migrated to another EU member in 2021 (1.2 million in 2020).

In 2021, there was an estimated five immigrants per 1000 people in the EU, Eurostat said.

Relative to the size of the resident population, Luxembourg recorded the highest rate of immigration in 2021 (almost 40 immigrants per 1000 people), followed by Malta (35) and Cyprus (27).

In contrast, Slovakia registered the lowest rate of immigration, with one immigrant per 1000 people. Slovakia was followed by Portugal and France, each with five immigrants per 1000 people. 

On January 1 2022, almost half (49.4 per cent) of the population in Luxembourg was foreign-born. Luxembourg was followed by Malta (23.6 per cent) and Cyprus (22.7 per cent) as the EU members with the highest shares of foreign-born population.

In contrast, the lowest shares were recorded in Romania (1.7 per cent), Poland (2.5 per cent) and Bulgaria (3.2 per cent).

In absolute terms, the biggest populations of foreign-born citizens (from other EU members and non-EU countries) were registered in Germany (15.3 million people), France (8.7 million) and Spain (7.4 million). 

In relative terms, Luxembourg had by far the biggest community of citizens born in another EU country, 33.8 per cent, followed by Cyprus with 10.6 per cent and Austria with 9.3 per cent.

Belgium and Malta also registered high shares of citizens born in other EU countries, with 7.9 per cent each.

Poland and Lithuania had the smallest shares of citizens born in other EU countries, with only 0.6 per cent each. Bulgaria and Romania also recorded low values, with one per cent each.

When it comes to citizens born in non-EU countries, the highest shares were recorded in Malta (15.7 per cent), closely followed by Luxembourg (15.6 per cent). These two EU members were followed by Sweden (14.9 per cent), Estonia (13.1 per cent) and Cyprus (12.2 per cent).

Registering the lowest shares of non-EU-born citizens were Romania (0.7 per cent), Slovakia (1.0 per cent), Poland (1.9 per cent), Bulgaria (2.2 per cent) and Hungary (2.9 per cent).

Compared with 2021 (in absolute terms), 13 EU members saw the number of citizens born in non-EU countries and in EU countries both increase in 2022 (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden), while five members saw the opposite trend with the number of both those groups of citizens decreasing (Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Latvia and Romania).

Some other interesting trends were observed, Eurostat said: in Germany, France, Spain, Cyprus, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia, the number of non-EU-born citizens increased while the number of citizens born in other EU countries decreased.

The opposite was registered in Croatia (to a very small degree) and Portugal, where the number of citizens born in other EU countries increased, but the non-EU foreign-born population decreased, Eurostat said.

(Photo: Abdulhamid AlFadhly/

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