The member countries of the European Union, during 2018, granted citizenship to 672.300 people who already had a habitual residence in their territories. Compared to 2017, this figure represents a decline of 4%.

If we make a comparison with previous years, what do we get? Let's see below:

Year 2016 2017 2018
People who have obtained citizenship of an EU Member State. 843.900 700.600 672.300

Source: Eurostat.

As the table above shows, the trend has been towards a decrease in the granting of nationalities. In particular, 2018 was a 4% decrease compared to the previous year. Now... What was the reason for these results?

According to our analysis, in 2018 this reduction was mainly due to a decrease in the granting of nationality, in absolute terms, in Italy (34.100 people less than in 2017), followed by Greece (6.400), Sweden (5.100), Denmark (4.400) and France (4.300).

However, it should be stressed that it was not all negative. Why? Well, because increases were also detected.

The largest increases in citizenship grants were obtained in Spain (24.300 more people received Spanish nationality compared to 2017), followed by Portugal (3.300) and Luxembourg (2.000).

An interesting fact is that 84% of the people who obtained citizenship of an EU Member State were citizens of non-EU countries.

[IMAGE] Chart #1

Chart #1: Number of people who have acquired EU Member State nationality, EU-27, 2009-18 (1.000) Source: Eurostat.

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Chart #2: Acquisition of nationality, relative change, 2018-2017 Source: Eurostat.

[IMAGEN] Tabla—1

Table #1: Total number of nationality acquisitions, 2009-2018 (1.000) Source: Eurostat.

But... Which EU member countries stand out in terms of the number of citizenships they have granted? Here are the most relevant figures.

The highest number of citizenships granted per country was for Germany (116.800), followed by Italy (112.500), France (110.000), Spain (90.800) and Sweden (63.800). And the most striking thing is that, together, they represented 73% of the new nationalities granted in the EU, during 2018.

On the other hand, a quarter of the people who obtained the nationality of any EU country were: Moroccans, Albanians, Turks and Brazilians.

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Chart #3: Main EU-27 Member States granting the highest number of citizenships, 2018 Source: Eurostat.


Now let's see... how the granting of nationalities behaved according to the population density of the EU member countries. (See Chart #4)

In relation to population, the highest number of citizenship awards was made by Luxembourg (11.4 persons per 1,000), followed by Sweden (6.3) and Cyprus (3.7).

[IMAGE] Chart #4

Chart #4: Acquisition of nationality per 1000 people, 2018 Source Eurostat


One commonly used indicator to measure the effect of national policies on the granting of citizenship to foreign residents is the "naturalization rate" or proportion of the total number of nationalities granted to a country's non-national population.

During 2018, throughout the European Union, 2,1 persons were granted citizenship for every 100 non-nationals. (See Figure #5)

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Chart #5: Naturalization rate (acquisition of nationality by 100 resident foreigners), 2018. Source: Eurostat.

It is important to note that changes over time in countries' naturalization rates can be attributed to changes in the non-national population and in the way the non-national population is measured.

Sweden (7.2) was the country with the highest naturalization rate, followed by Romania (5.6) and Portugal (5.1). By contrast, the lowest naturalisation rate was in Estonia (0.4). Other countries with naturalisation rates below 1.0 were Austria (0.7), Latvia (0.6), Denmark (0.6), Lithuania (0.5) and the Czech Republic (0.4).

However, if we review the EU-27 countries that have granted the most citizenship (Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden), their naturalisation rate was higher than the EU average (2.1). For example, the most prominent cases are Sweden (7.2), France (2.4) and Italy (2.2). But in the opposite direction, the lower percentages, with respect to the European Union average (2.1), were found in Spain (2.0) and Germany (1.2).


Now... where did the people who obtained European citizenship come from? Well, let's review it below.

The relationship to the origin of the people who obtained the nationality of an EU-27 Member State in 2018, we found that about 84% were previously citizens of third countries. This meant that 566.100 new European citizens had citizenship of countries outside the EU-27. All those acquiring citizenship were habitually resident in the country granting nationality. The worrying thing about these figures is that they are 5% less than in 2017.

The new EU-27 citizens came mainly from Africa (28%), North and South America (14%), Europe (outside EU-27: 25%) and Asia (16%).

There were also citizens from EU-27 member countries who acquired the nationality of another Member State. In this case the figure was 89,600 people, or 13% of the total.

To give a better picture of this phenomenon, I would say that only in Luxembourg and Hungary were most new nationalities granted to citizens of other EU Member States in 2018.

For example, in the case of Luxembourg, Portuguese citizens accounted for the largest percentage, followed closely by French, Italian and Belgian citizens, while in the case of Hungary, EU citizens who acquired Hungarian nationality were almost exclusively Romanian.

But... What if we review the information from a point of view of the original nationality of the citizenship applicants?

As in previous years, the most important groups were Moroccans (67.200 / 10%), followed by Albanians (47.400 / 7.1%), Turks (28.400 / 4.2%) and Brazilians (23.100 / 3.4%).

As for Moroccans, most obtained Spanish (38%), Italian (23%) or French (23%) citizenship, while most Albanians obtained Greek (51%) or Italian (46%) nationality.

It should be noted that more than half of the citizenship granted in Germany (59%) was to Turkish citizens and almost half of the citizenship granted in Italy (46%) was to Brazilian citizens.


There are more things that caught my attention than the statistics consulted in relation to the granting of citizenship in the EU. For example:

In 2018, most of the new nationalities granted were from Germany (116.800), Italy (112.500), France (110,000), Spain (90.800) and Sweden (63.800).

In contrast to the trends of other years, and although Romanian citizens ranked 5th among the nationalities with the highest number of citizenship obtained in 2018, there was a decrease (2%) compared to 2017 of the total number of Romanian citizens who obtained a European citizenship. This means that from 21.900 concessions in 2017 to 21.500 in 2018).

The granting of citizenship also decreased for Albanian citizens who are among the five nationalities with the highest number of obtained citizenship. To be exact, it decreased by 19% (from 58.500 in 2017 to 47.400 in 2018), but increased by 12% for Brazilian citizens (from 20.700 in 2017 to 23.100 in 2018).

In this count, the numbers of nationality concessions issued to Turkish (28.400 in 2018) and Moroccan (67.200 in 2018) citizens remained stable.

In addition to Romania, there is another EU-27 country where some of its citizens have acquired the nationality of another EU country. This is the case for Poland and Italy.

If we go deeper into the data, in absolute terms, most of the Romanian citizens, who acquired a new nationality, became citizens of Italy (6.500 people) and Germany (4.300 people). Whereas, about half of the acquisitions of nationality, by Polish citizens, were made in Germany (6.200 persons) but half of the Italian citizens, who were granted new nationality, opted for German citizenship (4.000 persons).

NOTE: The data shown in this article are based on the regulatory framework set out in Article 6 of Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 on statistics on migration and international protection. Administrative registers and national databases have been the main sources consulted for these statistics. Although the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the EU, it may have been included on an exceptional basis, contrary to the rule[1].

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