Krakow, Poland – Immigration, particularly from outside the EU, is arguably the most hotly-debated topic in Central Europe. But what’s the situation on the ground? How many non-EU nationals actually live in the Visegrad Group countries? As it turns out, not a whole lot…
According to Eurostat, roughly 22.3 million citizens from non-member countries were living in the European Union as of January 2018, accounting for 4.4% of the EU’s total population. More numerous than EU citizens residing in another member country (17.6 million), non-EU nationals accounted for the majority of foreigners in most EU member states – at the exception, for instance, of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, Estonia and Germany.
The highest share of foreigners in the population was reported in Luxembourg (48%). Eight other EU countries (Cyprus, Austria, Estonia, Malta, Latvia, Belgium, Ireland and Germany) have a share of non-nationals accounting between 10% and 20% of their overall population.
At the opposite end of the scope, foreigners accounted for less than 1% of the national population in Romania, Poland and Lithuania.
So, how many foreigners live in Central Europe?
In the Czech Republic, there were 219.000 EU citizens and nearly 300.000 non-EU nationals living in the country in 2018, out of a population of 10.6 million. Foreigners therefore account for roughly 5% of the Czech population (and around 2.8% for non-EU nationals).
Out of Hungary‘s total population of 9.8 million, EU citizens numbered around 78.000, while people from outside the bloc were slightly more numerous (approximately 83.000). Combined, foreigners accounted for roughly 1.6% of Hungary’s population.
By far the most populous country among the V4, Poland recorded the lowest rate of foreigners among Central European countries: less than 210.000 non-EU citizens and 30.000 people from other EU countries were estimated to live in the country in 2018, thereby accounting for less than 1% of the total population.
Slovakia has a population of over 5.4 million. According to Eurostat, this includes 56.000 EU citizens and 15.000 non-EU residents. But these figures largely contradict the data released by local authorities several weeks ago. According to the Slovak Foreigners Police, as many as 120.000 foreigners were living in the country at the end of last year. And for the first time, a majority of them (54%) came from outside the EU, including from Ukraine, Serbia and Russia.
Depending on the data source, between 600.000 and 650.000 non-EU nationals are currently living in the Visegrad Group countries (nearly twice as much as EU citizens). This represents roughly 1% of Central Europe’s overall population of 63.8 million people.