Russians top the bill at 33% of citizenships granted
Malta registered a whopping 131% increase in citizenship numbers granted for 2016 at 1495, up from 646 in 2015. This was behind Croatia at 232% and Greece at 138%. However the latter two included large numbers of Albanians and other Slav countries such as Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina. Incidentally the largest number of citizenships was granted to Russians at a staggering 33% of recipients followed by the UK at 8.4% and saudi Arabia at 5.4%, the latter undoubtedly reflecting the application of the Citizenship Scheme.
In 2016, around 995 000 persons acquired citizenship of a Member State of the European Union (EU), up from 841 000 in 2015 and 889 000 in 2014. Of the total number of persons obtaining the citizenship of one of the EU Member States in 2016, 12% were former citizens of another EU Member State, while the majority were non-EU citizens or stateless.
The largest group acquiring citizenship of an EU Member State where they lived in 2016 was citizens of Morocco (101 300 persons, of whom 89% acquired citizenship of Spain, Italy or France), ahead of citizens of Albania (67 500, 97% acquired citizenship of Italy or Greece), India (41 700, almost 60% acquired British citizenship), Pakistan (32 900, more than half acquired British citizenship), Turkey (32 800, almost half acquired German citizenship), Romania (29 700, 44% acquired Italian citizenship), and Ukraine (24 000, 60% acquired citizenship of Germany, Romania, Portugal or Italy). Moroccans, Albanians, Indians, Pakistanis, Turks, Romanians, and Ukrainians represented together about a third (33%) of the total number of persons who acquired citizenship of an EU Member State in 2016. Romanians (29 700 persons) and Poles (19 800) were the two largest groups of EU citizens acquiring citizenship of another EU Member State.
The number of UK nationals acquiring citizenship of another EU Member State more than doubled in 2016
All but three Member States granted citizenship to more people in 2016 than they did in 2015. The largest relative increase was in Croatia (in 2016, it granted citizenship to 3 times more people than in 2015 – an increase from 1 196 persons to 3 973, or +232%), in Greece (the number more than doubled from 13 933 to 33 210, or +138%) and Malta (from 646 to 1 495, or +131%).
The number of citizenships granted fell in three Member States in 2016, with the largest decrease in Ireland (from 13 565 to 10 038 or -26%).
Focusing on former citizenships for which at least 100 people acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State in 2016, the largest relative increase compared with 2015 was for the citizens of the United Kingdom (the number more than doubled from 2 478 people in 2015 to 6 555 people in 2016, or +165%), nationals of Saudi Arabia (from 133 to 277, or +108%), Nicaragua (from 715 to 1 423, or +99%), Bhutan (from 72 to 143, or +99%), and Paraguay (from 2 046 to 3468, or +70%).
Highest naturalisation rate in Croatia and Sweden
The naturalisation rate is the ratio of the number of persons who acquired the citizenship of a country during a year over the stock of foreign residents in the same country at the beginning of the year. In 2016, the highest naturalisation rates were registered in Croatia (9.7 citizenships granted per 100 resident foreigners), Sweden (7.9) and Portugal (6.5), followed by Romania and Greece (both 4.2), Finland and Italy (both 4.1). At the opposite end of the scale, naturalisation rates below 1 citizenship acquisition per 100 resident foreigners were recorded in Austria, Latvia and Slovakia (all 0.7), Estonia and Lithuania (0.9) and the Czech Republic (1.0).