Cyprus granted fewer citizenships in 2020 compared with the previous year, bucking the EU trend which saw a total of around 729,000 persons given citizenship of an EU member state, a three per cent increase from 2019, Eurostat data showed on Friday.
Cyprus granted citizenship to 2,700 individuals in 2020, a further decrease from 2,900 citizenships granted in 2019, 3,200 the previous year and 3,700 in 2017, which was the highest number since 2009.
This translates to 3.1 per 1,000 persons, EU and EFTA 2020 data showed.
The data applies to the year Cyprus decided not to accept any more applications as it moved to scrap its controversial citizenship by investment programme and revoke several citizenships, following a string of damning reports.
Across the EU, most new citizenships in 2020 were granted by Italy, 131,800, or 18 per cent of the EU total, followed by Spain with 126,300, or 17 per cent, Germany with 111,200, or 15 per cent, France 86,500, or 12 per cent, and Sweden with 80,200, or 11 per cent.
According to recent statistics on the acquisition of citizenship in the European Union (EU), this increase was mainly due to the increases recorded in Spain as 27,300 more Spanish citizenships were granted compared with 2019, followed by the Netherlands with 21,800 more EU citizenships, Sweden with 16000, and Portugal with 11,000.
In contrast, the largest decreases in absolute terms were observed in France (23,300 fewer French citizenships granted compared with 2019), followed by Germany (20,800), Belgium (6,700), and Romania (4,000).
As in 2019, the majority (85 per cent) of those who obtained the citizenship of an EU Member State in 2020 were previously citizens of a non-EU country or stateless. Of these, citizens of Morocco made up the highest numbers, followed by citizens of Syria, Albania, Brazil, and Turkey.
Former citizens of another EU Member State accounted for 13 per cent of the total number of citizenships acquired.
Romanians (28,700 persons), Poles (12,500) and Italians (8,200) remained the three largest groups of EU citizens acquiring citizenship of another EU Member State, the same as in 2018 and 2019.
Regarding the age of those who acquired EU citizenship in 2020, most, 42 per cent were aged 25 to 44, 36 per cent were younger than 25 years, while those aged 45 or over accounted for 22 per cent.
Eight per cent of those who were granted citizenship from EU member states that year were aged 55 and over, with Cyprus accounting for one fourth of these, before Bulgaria with the highest share of 30 per cent and ahead Lithuania with 20 per cent.
The countries with lowest shares of elderly new citizens were Romania, Greece, Estonia (each with 5 per cent), Austria (4 per cent), and Slovenia (2 per cent).
Among those acquiring the citizenship of any EU Member State, 23 per cent were children below the age of 15 (0-14 years old); the highest proportions were in Greece (35 per cent), France (32 per cent), Slovenia (32 per cent), and Belgium (31 per cent).
In Lithuania, no children under 15 years were granted citizenship in 2020; other countries with a low proportion of citizen acquisitions by children were Portugal (7 per cent), Luxembourg (6 per cent), Ireland (6 per cent), and Bulgaria (4 per cent).
Meanwhile, Sweden had the highest naturalisation rate, meaning the ratio of the number of persons who acquired the citizenship of a country during a year over the stock of non-national residents in the same country at the beginning of the year.
In 2020, Sweden granted 8.6 citizenships per 100 resident non-nationals, Portugal 5.5, and the Netherlands 4.8, followed by Finland with 2.9, Italy 2.6, and Spain and Belgium both 2.4.
At the opposite end of the scale, naturalisation rates below 1 citizenship acquisition per 100 resident non-nationals were recorded in Lithuania (0.2), Estonia (0.4), Latvia (0.4), Czechia (0.5), Austria (0.6), Slovakia (0.7), Bulgaria (0.8) and Ireland (0.9).