- The population in Europe‚Äôs Southern neighbourhood was growing from 2000 to 2010, whereas it was shrinking in the Eastern neighbourhood.
- Population growth which is not accompanied by a corresponding economic development will result in migratory pressures. At the same time, an ageing Europe may be increasingly dependent on an inflow of migrants. Both developments have to be taken into consideration.
- Compared with its Southern neighbourhood, Europe‚Äôs population has been growing slowly.
- In many European regions, population development remains almost static, and is consequently at risk of changing to population decrease.
Observations for policy
Population in the Eastern European neighbourhood (former USSR countries) was decreasing from 2000 to 2010, whereas it was increasing in the Southern (Northern Africa, Middle East) and the Northwestern (Greenland) neighbourhood. In Turkey and the Balkan States, both growing and shrinking regions can be found. In terms of population development, especially the Southern neighbourhood has gained more relevance. As some countries of North Africa and of the Middle East currently suffer from political instability and military conflicts, population increase can cause changing migration patterns ‚Äď especially if the levels of economic development are insufficient to provide employment opportunities for young people. On the other hand, an ageing Europe may be increasingly dependent on an inflow of working-age population. Furthermore, an economically and demographically dynamic neighbourhood can create new markets and opportunities for economic development from which Europe could benefit.
In most European regions population increased between 2000 and 2010. Population decline was particularly strong in parts of Central Europe (Germany, Poland), Northern Europe (Sweden, Finland), and especially Southeast Europe (Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece). However, compared with its Southern neighbourhood, most European regions recorded low population growth. In many regions, for example in Germany, Denmark, France, Poland, and Spain, growth did not exceed 0.5%. Depending on the evolution of natural growth and of migratory trends, population decline may occur in the coming years.
Europe‚Äôs neighbourhoods are diverse. Also population development varies between different neighbourhoods. As noted in the Territorial Agenda 2020, growing regions face other pressures than regions affected by depopulation. One means used to address specific challenges in different countries is provided by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Within the ENP framework, the EU has agreed on action plans with 12 out of 16 ENP countries (no agreement with Algeria (currently negotiating), Belarus, Libya, Syria (remain outside most ENP structures)). These action plans address both the neighbourhoods and the EU. They set out the agenda for political and economic reforms for 3 to 5 years, and reflect the country‚Äôs and the EU‚Äôs interests. Support from the EU includes financial support, economic integration and access to EU markets, easier access to Schengen visas, and technical and policy support. Easier access to Schengen visas is especially important for students and young people from ENP countries. This way, the educational exchange between ENP countries and the EU can be promoted and set the basis for increasing future cooperation in other fields like trade and business.
A general East-West divide can be observed for Europe and its neighbourhood countries. Most regions registering population decline between 2000 and 2010 are located in Eastern and Southeast Europe and the Eastern and Southeast neighbourhood. This comprises Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and parts of Turkey and the Balkan. On the other hand, most regions in Western and Southern Europe and the Southern neighbourhood have registered population growth between 2000 and 2010.
The highest annual growth rates can be identified for the Southern neighbourhood. This comprises Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and the Middle East. Especially in Africa, high fertility rates result in high natural population growth. However, in this area also the highest discontinuities (>7.5 percentage points) between neighbouring regions can be seen. In the Eastern neighbourhood, only capital regions like Moscow, Minsk, and Kiev, and some regions in the Caucasus and at the Caspian Sea stand out as regions registering population growth.
Large interregional disparities can be identified for Turkey and the Balkan states. Turkey is a transitional country in many aspects and is also split in demographical terms into rising and declining territories. The population was especially decreasing in Central and Northeast Turkey, whereas Northwest Turkey and Southern Turkey experienced population growth. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and FYROM the population was increasing, whereas Serbia (except Belgrade), Albania and the Kosovo have been characterised by population decline.
Zooming in on Europe, Eastern Germany, Southeast Europe, the Baltic States and central and northern Sweden and Finland stand out as regions affected by population decline between 2000 and 2010, most considerably in Eastern Germany and in Southeast Europe. Especially in Eastern Germany one can see the effects of an ageing society on long-term demographic evolution. But also in Central Portugal, Northwest Spain, Southern Italy, Greece, France and Poland regions that faced population decline can be found.
Large discontinuities between European regions can be identified on the Iberian Peninsula, along the German-Luxembourgish and French-Luxembourgish border, between Ireland and Northern Ireland, in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, and along the Norwegian-Swedish and Hungarian-Slovakian border. In most cases, the difference between the annual growth rates of neighbouring regions goes up to a maximum of 5 percentage points.
Concepts and methods
The map shows annual growth rates of the population between 2000 and 2010 in ten classes. To calculate the annual growth rates, available population data closest to 2000 and 2010 have been used. The ten classes cover a range from -2.3% up to +13.1%.
In addition to annual growth rates territorial discontinuities between neighbouring regions are displayed. The line‚Äôs thickness illustrates the extent of the discontinuity. Four different weights are used, ranging from 1-2.5 percentage points to more than 7.5 percentage points.
To calculate the annual growth rate of population, available data of the year closest to 2000 and 2010, respectively, was used. The collected data from the national institutions all over the countries covered by the project are quite disparate in terms of nature, definition, quality and time coverage. Because of this variability, data are harmonised against the national values provided by the US Census databases. A cross-multiplication is used to apply the observed ratio at the regional scale. These are computed at the SNUTS 2 level whenever possible, at the national level otherwise.