Migrants boost EU growth

BRUSSELS (AP) – Fueled mainly by immigration, the population of the European Union rose by 0.36 percent last year to 378.5 million, according to estimates released by the EU statistics office yesterday. The EU gained an extra 1,340,000 people in 2002, with more than three-quarters of the increase represented by new immigrants, Eurostat estimated. Ireland recorded the sharpest increase of 1.22 percent, to a population of 3.93 million. It had the highest birthrate with 14.8 births per 1,000 inhabitants, and one of the highest rates of net immigration with 5.1 newcomers per 1,000. All 15 EU members showed an increase in population with Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain the highest after Ireland. The fastest birthrates behind Ireland were in France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Denmark. The lowest birthrates were in Germany, Greece and Italy. Excluding immigration, the populations of those three nations fell – by 0.14 percent in Germany; 0.04 percent in Greece and 0.03 percent in Italy. Portugal and Luxembourg had the highest rates of net migration, with 6.7 newcomers per 1,000 inhabitants in both countries, followed by Spain with 5.6. Although Luxembourg has long taken in high numbers of immigrants, Ireland, Portugal and Spain have traditionally exported labor. However, recent economic advances have attracted foreign workers.

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