Say hello to another 1,276,000 inhabitants of the EU in 2003, bringing the total to 380.8 million people on January 1st 2004. Most of them were immigrants, out of the total increase of 3.4 people for every 1000 inhabitants, 2.6 was down to net migration while only 0.8 was accounted for by natural increase (births minus deaths).
The report, a first estimate by Eurostat (and thus may be heavily revised), shows some large differences between countries. Overall, the largest increases were in Ireland (1.5%), Spain (0.7%) and Portugal (0.6%), with the smallest in Germany (+0.01%), Denmark and Greece (0.3%).
Live births increased over the post-war low recorded in 2002, reaching 4.03 million. The highest rate was in Ireland (15.5 per 1000 inhabitants, or 1.5%) and France (12.7 per 1000), while Germany (8.6), Greece (9.3) and Italy (9.4) saw the lowest. Deaths rose to 3.74 million as an aging population outweighed longer life-expectancy per person. The highest rate was in Germany (10.4 per 1000 inhabitants) while the lowest was in Ireland (7.4). Ireland thus had the highest rate of natural increase (8.1 per 1000 inhabitants), while Germany saw a natural decrease (1.8).
However thanks to migration, which accounted for 3/4 of the total population increase, no EU country saw a fall in population. Contrary to British tabloid myth the UK did not account for a disproportionate number of migrants, the leader Spain took 23% of all the net migration, Italy 21%, Germany 16% and the United Kingdom 10%. In terms of per inhabitant Ireland, Portugal and Spain led the way.
Overall then Europe’s population is growing, but unevenly and certainly not rapidly. Things however could be worse — half of the Acceding countries saw their population fall, in particular Latvia (-0.6%) and Lithuania (-0.5%).