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Italy grants citizenship to more people than any other EU country

The Italian job.
The Italian job.
Image: Reuters/Max Rossi
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Italy was responsible for a large slice of the near-1 million people being granted citizenship by a European Union country in 2016, according to recent figures released by Eurostat.

In fact, the European nation granted citizenship to more people than any other country in the 28-nation bloc. More than 200,000 people were given Italian citizenship that year, accounting for 20% of the EU total.

Italy was ahead of Spain, which granted citizenship to more than 150,000 people; the UK gave citizenship to 149,400 people; and France gave citizenship to 119,200 people. Overall, EU member states granted citizenship to 995,000 people in 2016, up from 841,000 in 2015 and 889,000 in 2014.

The vast majority of those who acquired citizenship of a EU member state in 2016 were previously citizens of a non-EU country—nearly a third of new EU citizens were Moroccans, Albanians, Indians, Pakistanis, and Turks. Only around 12% of those obtaining citizenship from an EU country were already citizens of another member state.

Over the last few years, Italy has borne the brunt of Europe’s migrant crisis. In July 2017, 80% of the migrants coming to the EU first arrived in Italy.

Immigration was the central topic in last month’s Italian election, which resulted in a messy hung parliament. In the run up to the election, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi pledged to deport 600,000 undocumented immigrants from Italy, while Attilio Fontana, a politician from the right-wing Northern League, warned that the “white race” in Italy could face extinction unless the country dramatically reduced the number of migrants entering the country.