Think immigration is too high in Europe? If so, do you know how many foreigners do you think live in your country? The numbers may be far lower than you think.
The map above shows the percentage of the foreign citizens (split between EU and non-EU nationals) living in many European countries. While the media loves to portray the continent as being overrun with foreigners, the truth is quite different.
Below are the percentage of foreign citizens by country, based off data from Eurostat:
- Luxembourg: 43.8% (37.9% EU and 5.9% non-EU)
- Lichtenstein: (non-EU) 33.3% (16.7% EU and 16.7% non-EU)
- Switzerland: (non-EU) 22.8% (14.8% EU and 8.5% non-EU)
- Cyprus: 20.0% (12.6% EU and 7.4% non-EU)
- Latvia: 16.3% (0.3% EU and 16.0% non-EU)
- Estonia: 15.7% (1.1% EU and 14.6% non-EU)
- Spain: 12% (5.1% EU and 6.9% non-EU)
- Austria: 11.2% (4.5% EU and 6.7% non-EU)
- Belgium: 11.0% (7.0% EU and 4.0% non-EU)
- Ireland: 10.6% (8.5% EU and 2,2% non-EU)
- Germany: 9.1% (3.4% EU and 5.7% non-EU)
- Greece: 8.6% (1.3% EU and 7.3% non-EU)
- Norway: (non-EU) 8.3% (5.0% EU and 3.3% non-EU)
- Italy: 7.9% (2.4% EU and 5.5% non-EU)
- United Kingdom: 7.6% (3.7% EU and 3.9% non-EU)
- Montenegro: (non-EU) 7.4% (0.2% EU and 7.2% non-EU)
- Sweden: 6.8% (2.9% EU and 3.9% non-EU)
- EU27 average: 6.8% (2.7% EU and 4.1% non-EU)
- Iceland: (non-EU) 6.6% (5.2% EU and 1.4% non-EU)
- Denmark: 6.4% (2.4% EU and 4.0% non-EU)
- France: 5.9% (2.1% EU and 3.8% non-EU)
- Malta: 4.9%
- Portugal: 4.2% (1.0% EU and 3.1% non-EU)
- Slovenia: 4.2% (0.3% EU and 3.9% non-EU)
- Netherlands: 4.2% (2.2% EU and 2.0% non-EU)
- Czech Republic: 4.0% (1.4% EU and 2.6% non-EU)
- Finland: 3.4% (1.3% EU and 2.1% non-EU)
- Hungary: 2.1% (1.3% EU and 0.8% non-EU)
- Slovakia: 1.3% (1.0% EU and 0.3% non-EU)
- Lithuania: 0.7% (0.1% EU and 0.6% non-EU)
- Bulgaria: 0.6% (0.2% EU and 0.4% non-EU)
- Croatia: 0.6% (0.2% EU and 0.4% non-EU)
- Turkey: (non-EU) 0.3% (0.1% EU and 0.2% non-EU)
- Romania: 0.2% (0.1% EU and 0.1% non-EU)
- Poland: 0.1% (0.0% EU and 0.1% non-EU)
So based on the data above, Luxembourg is the most generous country overall with over 40% of its population being foreign citizens, although mostly from the EU. Lichtenstein and Switzerland, while not EU members themselves, are also both very generous to EU citizens.
Estonia and Latvia are interesting as while they’re not yet especially rich, they still host a large number of non-EU nationals. The explanation is many ethnic Russians living in both countries at the time of independence have chosen not to become citizens.
Lithuania does not have this issue, because when it became independent it had far fewer ethnic Russians living its borders and so made them all citizens.
At the other extreme you have Poland and Romania which are the most exclusionary states in the EU.
Overall, non-EU states seem to be more generous than EU countries with Lichtenstein, Switzerland, and Norway all allowing in more foreigners than the EU27 average (and more than the UK).
Considering that these are 3 of the richest countries in Europe, it seems difficult to take the claim that immigrants simply “sponge off benefits” or are “a burden to their host countries” seriously.
In fact, it seems the reverse is true. Countries with a high proportion of EU migrants seem to be richer than those with fewer. Of course people are attracted to countries that are doing well, so more immigrants should be seen as a sign of sucess and be celebrated rather than a cause for alarm.
How do you feel now about immigration in Europe? Still think it’s too high? Leave your comments below: