Free European Union flags image, public domain CC0 photo.

The European Union’s population fell for the second year in a row last year, according to the bloc’s statistics office, as the area grapples with almost two million fatalities from the coronavirus.

According to Eurostat, the population of the EU’s 27 member nations declined by about 172,000 from the previous year and by more than 656,000 from January 2020.

“In 2020 and 2021 the positive net migration no longer compensated for the negative natural change in the EU and, as a consequence, the EU total population has been decreasing,” the report added, citing pandemic effects.

Deaths started to outnumber births in the EU a decade ago, although immigration from outside the EU helped to close the gap until the first year of the epidemic.

The only other occasion the EU saw a population decline since 1960 was in 2011, however this quickly reversed owing to net migration.

Given the pandemic, an aging population, and low fertility rates, Eurostat predicts that deaths will continue to outnumber births in the coming years.

“Should this be the case,” it stated, “the EU’s overall population decline or growth in the future is likely to depend largely on the contribution made by net migration.”

While Italy, Poland, and Romania suffered the greatest population declines, more than half of EU member countries witnessed population growth, headed by France, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Eurostat estimated that 446.8 million people lived inside the EU in January 2022.

Source: Reuters

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