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EUROPEAN UNION

IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

What percentage of the European Union's population are non-EU residents and which countries have the highest numbers of residents from outside the EU? New figures reveal all.

IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?
European Union flags are seen outside the European Council's building in Brussels on March 17, 2022. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

In 2021, 23.7 million non-EU citizens were living in EU countries, making up 5.3 percent of the total EU population, according to the European statistical office Eurostat.

This number now includes about a million UK citizens, which is no longer an EU member. In comparison, some 13.7 million EU citizens live in an EU state other than their own.

In relation to the national population, citizens from countries that are not part of the EU represent the majority of non-nationals in most EU states.

Eurostat reports that “in absolute terms, the largest numbers of non-nationals living in the EU Member States were found in Germany (10.6 million people), Spain (5.4 million), France and Italy (both 5.2 million). Non-nationals in these four Member States collectively represented 70.3 percent of the total number of non-nationals living in all EU Member States.”  

Only in Luxembourg, Cyprus, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and Slovakia the majority of non-nationals are other EU citizens. In Luxembourg, 47 percent of the population is made of non-nationals)

How many non-EU nationals live in the EU? Source: Eurostat

In relative terms, the EU member states with the highest share of non-EU residents were Estonia (14%), Latvia (13%), Malta (12%), Luxembourg (9%), Austria, Cyprus and Spain (8%), Germany, Greece, Slovenia and Sweden (7%), France, Ireland, Italy and Sweden (6%).

In Switzerland the proportion is 9 percent and in Norway 4 percent, but in both these non-EU states, the majority of foreign residents are EU citizens (16% and 7% of the total population respectively).

Based on data provided by Eurostat, the most common non-EU nationalities in the countries covered by The Local are:

Austria: Serbia (1.4%)

Denmark: Syria (0.6%)

France: Algeria and Morocco (0.9%)

Germany: Turkey (1.6%)

Italy: Albania and Morocco (0.7%)

Norway: Syria (0.6%)

Spain: Morocco (1.6%)

Sweden: Syria (0.9%)

Switzerland: Turkey and North Macedonia (0.8%)

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RESIDENCY PERMITS

Denmark could make change to permanent residency employment rule

New Danish Minister for Immigration and Integration Kaare Dybvad Bek says he wants to change one of the criteria for permanent residency in Denmark.

Denmark could make change to permanent residency employment rule

In an interview with newspaper Politiken on Thursday, Bek said that people on paid internships should enable nationals of non-EU countries to meet the overall criteria for permanent residency.

Bek told Politiken he wanted to “tidy up things that make no sense” in permanent residency rules.

He also told the newspaper he wanted Denmark’s immigration rules to be “tight, but not crazy”.

Specifically, the minister said paid internships and trainee programs should count toward the work requirement — applicants for permanent residency must have worked for at least three years and six months of the previous four years.

Before 2016, education could also be used to satisfy the work requirement. Bek is not keen to restore that particular policy, telling Politiken that working people should considered first.

“We believe that people become well integrated by being at a place of work. That could be having responsibility for senior citizens, a checkout at Netto or laying bricks. By being around colleagues every single day you will get a very good idea of what Danish society is generally about,” Bek said to Politiken.

No specific detail was given as to specific sectors which might be encompassed by a change in the rules. But students or interns who are paid for positions with companies could benefit, according to the report.

Bek named social care workers and construction site apprentices as possible examples of jobs that could be accounted for.

Danish permanent residence rules were changed in 2016 under the previous centre-right government.

Prior to the 2016 change, education counted as employment in a requirement stating a person must have been employed for three and a half of the last four years in order to meet permanent residency criteria.

After 2016, any time spent in education does not count towards the employment criteria.

Bek’s Social Democratic party, then in opposition, supported the change.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Denmark must treat international students equally on permanent residency

The new immigration minister denied he would roll back the 2016 changes in their entirety and said people working should be given priority over students.

He also stressed to Politiken that the government had no plans to ease immigration rules but had always held the same position with regard to internships and residency rules.

Permanent residence means that a person is allowed to stay in Denmark and does not need to apply for residence again. 

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens have the right to apply for permanent residency when they have lived in Denmark for at least five consecutive years. Once it is granted, the holder can live in Denmark without having to meet the original requirements of their temporary EU residency (i.e. being employed, self-employed, a student, or through having sufficient funds). 

Non-EU citizens can be granted permanent residence once they have had a temporary residence permit for eight uninterrupted years (in some cases four).

There are certain requirements for the previous temporary residence, however. These include current employment, and paid internships do not fulfil this employment requirement currently.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between getting Danish citizenship and becoming a permanent resident?

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