Eurostat has released statistics on the population of the European Union (EU).
The population of the EU was estimated at 510.1 million on 1 January 2016 — an increase of almost two million compared to the year before. Within this, the EU experienced negative natural change for the first time in several centuries, with growth coming from net migration approaching two million.
We welcome this decline in natural change.
Simon Ross, Population Matters Chief Executive, commented: “With a population of over 500 million and growing overall, Europe has too many people consuming too much to be sustainable in the long term. We hope that this welcome development is the start of a trend to smaller, more sustainable population sizes.”
He added: “The overall growth emphasizes the need to address the factors driving record levels of migration, not least large family sizes in countries of origin.”
While it is good to see that fertility rates have fallen overall, the UK is not one of the countries to have caused that decline. With a combination of having the fifth-highest natural growth and net migration, Britain has the sixth-fastest growth rate for population size. Growing at over twice the EU average, its population is projected to exceed France, a country with more than twice the land area, within five years.
Simon Ross said: “Concerns about housing, transport congestion and the availability of school and healthcare in the UK will only become more urgent as a result of these trends. Moreover, high population growth threatens the environment and will make it more difficult to reverse the effects of climate change.”