Meine Merkliste Geteilte Merkliste PDF oder EPUB erstellen

The Many Faces of Migration | European Union |

European Union Background Information Historical Development Faces of Migration Institutional Basis Immigration Policy Integration Policy Irregular Migration Refuge and Asylum EU Citizenship Future Challenges Literature

The Many Faces of Migration

Sandra Lavenex

/ 2 Minuten zu lesen

The present immigration situation among EU member states is highly heterogeneous. This is apparent at first glance in the different migration figures, specifically the balance between those moving into a country and those leaving it.

Migration balances for 2007 in selected EU member states (bpb) Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de

European Statistical Office (Eurostat) data for 2007 indicate the continuation of highly differing forms of immigration, with a clear shift in the relationship between "old" and "new" immigration countries. Thus countries on the southern border of the EU (Spain and Italy) are experiencing the highest level of immigration, and even the Czech Republic, a new member, has already overtaken the traditional receiving countries of central and northern Europe. Only the Baltic States, Bulgaria and Poland now show negative immigration balances, although even the Netherlands recorded more emigration than immigration in 2007 (see figure).

The percentage of foreign population in the EU member states extends from less than 1% of the total population (Slovakia) through to 39% (Luxemburg). In most countries, however, the foreign percentage is between 2% and 8% of the total population (see Table). In all EU member states excluding Luxemburg, Belgium, Ireland and Cyprus, the majority of the foreign population is made up of so-called third country nationals, i.e. non-EU citizens.

Native and foreign populations in the member states of the European Union, 2004 and 1990

c: Census data, e: Estimations, p: Provisional Data
YearForeigners (%)Largest foreigner groups
(by country of citizenship)
Year Foreigners (%)
Belgium 20048,3 Italy 19908,9
Czech Republic 20041,9 Ukraine 19900,3
Denmark 20045,0 Turkey 19902,9
Germany 20048,9 Turkey 19906,1
Estonia 2000c20,0 Russian Federation 1990-
Greece 2004e8,1 Albania 19901,4
Spain 20046,6 Ecuador 19901,0
France 20045,6 Portugal 19906,3
Ireland 2002c7,1 United Kingdom 19902,3
Italy 20043,4 Albania 19900,6
Cyprus 2002c9,4 Greece 19924,2
Latvia 200422,2 Russian Federation 199827,3
Lithuania 2001c1,0 Russian Federation 1990-
Luxembourg 200438,6 Portugal 199028,7
Hungary 20041,3 Romania 19951,3
Malta 20042,8 United Kingdom 19901,6
Netherlands 20044,3 Turkey 19904,3
Austria 20049,4 Serbia and Montenegro 19905,7
Poland 2002c1,8 Germany 1990-
Portugal 2003p2,3 Cape Verde 19901,0
Slovenia 20042,3 Bosnia-Herzegovina 1990- ​
Slovakia 20040,6 Czech Republic 1990- ​
Finland 20042,0 Russian Federation 19900,4 ​
Sweden 20045,3 Finland 19905,3 ​
United Kingdom 20034,7 Ireland 19904,2 ​

Source: eurostat 2006

It is not only in terms of numbers that the immigration situation differs in the various EU states. There are also strong differences with regard to the legal categories on which the immigration flows are based. Thus labour migration dominates in countries with less regulated labour markets (e.g. the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Czech Republic and Denmark), whereas in most other states family reunification represents the strongest immigration category (especially apparent in France and Sweden). In this regard, Italy and Germany adopt a middle position, i.e. similar percentages are attributable to labour migration and family reunification, although in Germany "other" migration also makes up a large percentage. The latter is attributable above all to the immigration of Spätaussiedler (ethnic German immigrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union).

The geographical origin of the biggest immigrant groups also varies conspicuously from one member state to another and reflects primarily historical experiences and geographical proximity. Thus, for example, in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, Turkish citizens make up the biggest group of foreigners. By contrast, citizens of former colonies are numerous in Portugal (Cape Verde, Brazil and Angola) and in Spain (Ecuador and Interner Link: Morocco). For historic reasons, and for reasons of proximity, the majority of foreigners in Greece are from Albania, the majority in Slovenia from other parts of the former Yugoslavia, and citizens from the former Soviet Union are most significant among the foreign populations of Estonia, Latvia and Interner Link: Lithuania.

Finally, immigrants' levels of qualification play an increasing role in political debate. At the present time, all Western states have become anxious to increase the number of people with a good education or university degree among their immigrants. Nonetheless, in most of the member states immigration is dominated by the low skilled. Only the United Kingdom records almost equal percentages of highly and low-skilled migrants. In Italy, Austria and Germany, by contrast, immigration is dominated now as ever by the lower skilled.



  1. See OECD 2007.

  2. See OECD 2007.

Weitere Inhalte