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The European Union passes the milestone of half a billion inhabitants

(BRUSSELS2) The result came out yesterday, from the Eurostat statistics crushing machines. On 1 January 2010, the population of the EU27 was estimated at 501,1 million people, compared to 499,7 million on 1 January 2009.

The population of the EU27 increased by 1,4 million people in 2009, an annual rate of 2,7 per 1000 inhabitants. This increase results for a third from natural increase (births – 0,5 million people +1,0‰) and for two thirds from net migration (0,9 million +1,7‰). Compared to 2008: there is a slight decline in the crude birth rate, while net migration has reduced more significantly.

The Irish, British, French and Swedish baby champions

The highest birth rates were recorded in Ireland (16,8‰), the United Kingdom (12,8‰), France (12,7‰), Cyprus (12,2‰) and Sweden (12,0‰) and the lowest in Germany (7,9‰), Austria (9,1‰), Portugal (9,4‰), Italy (9,5‰) as well as Latvia and in Hungary (9,6‰ each). Mortality is higher overall in Central European countries. The natural balance (births – mortality) is thus the highest in Ireland (+10,2‰). France (+4,3‰) ranks in 3rd position, just after Cyprus (+5,5‰), and ahead of Luxembourg (+4,0‰) and the United Kingdom (+3,7‰). Germany is at the bottom of the table (-2,3‰) ahead of Hungary (-3,4‰), Bulgaria, Latvia (-3,6‰).


Decision-Making Statistics (Analysis)

The half-billion milestone is symbolic on an external level. It remains far from the billion exceeded by China or India but also far ahead of the United States (310 million), Brazil (200 million), Russia (140 million) or Japan (120 million).

These statistics also have importance on an internal level, in terms of power relations, in the more or less long term. The calculation of the double majority (started with the Treaty of Nice, reinforced with the Treaty of Lisbon) is, in fact, based on these statistics. It is thus interesting to observe that, with demographic dynamics, the gap between France and Germany tends to narrow, by around 600.000 inhabitants per year (3/4 due to the increase in the French population, 1/4 due to growth). If this pace continues, within a quarter of a century, the Franco-German couple will have equal votes in the Council! Pure fiction perhaps...

As for the distribution of seats in the European Parliament, which are now distributed to each legislature (under a resolution of October 2007 according to the principle of degressive proportionality), it could also vary and grant to France (as to Spain), at least one more seat, from the next legislature (2014-2019).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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