Monday

25th Jan 2021

Two million British people emigrated to EU, figures show

  • Heathrow airport: The figures come amid a shrill debate on EU migrants (Photo: Curt Smith)

British figures indicate that just as many UK citizens live in the EU as vice-versa, despite popular perceptions.

The numbers, covering 2010, were put forward last week in a government response to a parliamentary question by Matthew Oakeshott, a Liberal member of the House of Lords.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Compared to the 2.3 million EU citizens in the UK, which includes people who came after Poland and nine other states joined the Union in 2004, British consular authorities estimate that 2.2 million Britons live in the other 26 EU countries, excluding Croatia, which joined in 2013.

A previous response to an Oakeshott question in January said another 900 Britons live in Croatia, putting the net immigration-emigration ratio even closer to par, however.

The country breakdown says just over 1 million British people live in Spain.

Other popular destinations are: France (330,000); Ireland (329,000); Germany (107,000); Cyprus (65,000); the Netherlands (48,000); Greece (45,000); Portugal (39,000); and Italy (37,000).

The government reply indicates the real numbers could be higher, due to “a high evidence of non-registration” in France, Portugal and Spain.

Of the total, some 400,000 are British pensioners.

Meanwhile, relatively few have gone to former Communist or former Soviet EU countries, with just 6,000 UK passport holders in Poland, for instance.

The statistics come amid a shrill debate on EU immigration ahead of the European elections in May.

The main British eurosceptic party, Ukip, last year predicted that many economic migrants will come from Bulgaria and Romania when labour restrictions expire on 1 January 2014.

The prediction proved false.

But the ruling Conservative Party took a similar line. It planned a negative advertising campaign to tell people that British weather is bad and there are few jobs on offer.

Prime Minister David Cameron also raised the alarm on “benefit tourism,” singling out Polish people as benefit cheats, despite having no evidence to back up his claim.

For his part, Oakeshott told the Financial Times on Monday (10 February) that the “scaremongering … could poison the atmosphere for 2 million of our fellow countrymen in the rest of Europe."

But Mark Field, a Conservative MP, told the newspaper: “These [figures] are not like for like: Lots of Brits abroad are successful people living in second homes in Spain or France. Most Brits living abroad are not aggressive beggars or sleeping rough on the streets.”

MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'

MEPs called for a new law guaranteeing workers can 'disconnect' outside work hours, without repercussion. But they also passed a last-minute amendment, calling on the commission to delay any legislation for three years.

EU rolls out vaccine, as UK-variant spreads

Most EU member states began rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 on Sunday, as a more contagious variant from the UK begins to spread on the continent.

News in Brief

  1. Estonia to get first woman prime minister
  2. Turkey and Greece to hold Mediterranean security talks
  3. Dutch police detain 240 in anti-lockdown protests
  4. Renewables overtake fossil fuels in EU electricity mix
  5. France's top scientist warns of corona 'emergency'
  6. Growing appetite for Northern Ireland independence
  7. Surge in support for Portuguese far-right party
  8. German far-right party sues to avoid stigma

EU rolls out vaccine, as UK-variant spreads

Most EU member states began rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 on Sunday, as a more contagious variant from the UK begins to spread on the continent.

Pandemic exposed gulf in EU digital-schooling

EU states who invested in digital education were better able to protect students from the pandemic, a new report has said. Meanwhile, poor and rural pupils were worse off.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  2. Why Russia politics threaten European security
  3. MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'
  4. Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge
  5. Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity
  6. Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK
  7. Will EU ever take action to stop Israeli settlements?
  8. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us