Net immigration in Germany has continued along a longer-standing trend of decline in 2017, official figures published on Monday by the country's Federal Statistical Office Show.
According to the Wiesbaden-based government agency, 416,000 more people moved to Germany than left the country last year. Back in 2016, net immigration was still measured at around 500,000 after 1.14 million at the height of the "refugee crisis" in 2015.
In gross terms, around 1,551,000 people immigrated to and 1,135,000 emigrated from Germany in 2017. Foreign citizens accounted for the bulk of immigrants with 1,384,000, or 89 percent of the total, as well as a large share of the emigrants with 885,000 or 63.9 percent of the overall tally. As a consequence, net immigration of foreigners came in at 499,000 in 2017 after 635,000 in 2016.
By contrast, the number of people who already held German citizenship prior to moving to the country rose from 146,000 in 2016 to 167,000 in 2017. Because 249,000 German citizens emigrated during the same period, however, the Federal Statistical Office still recorded a net loss thereof of 82,000.
Broken down by nationality of net immigrants, the official statistics showed that the European Union (EU) accounted for over half of and hence the by far largest share of new residents (239,000 out of 416,000). Rumania (73,000), Poland (34,000), Croatia (33,000) and Bulgaria (30,000) led the table of countries of origin within the continental bloc whose 510 million citizens enjoy internal freedom of movement.
EU citizens were followed by citizens of Asian countries (140,000), other European countries outside of the EU (60,000) and Africa (35,000). The Federal Statistical Office noted that particularly steep increases in net immigration were experienced in the categories of nationals from the Balkan states of Kosovo (plus 8,000 in 2017 after minus 6,000 in 2016, Serbia (plus 7,000 in 2017 after minus 10,000 in 2016), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (plus 6,000 in 2017 after minus 3,000 in 2016) and Albania (minus 1,000 in 2017 after minus 26,000 in 2016).
At the same time, net immigration from Asia and Africa declined significantly last year. A relatively small number of 60,000 Syrians moved to Germany in 2017 after 146,000 in 2016, while the number of new Afghani and Iraqi residents fell from 56,000 to 4,000 and 48,000 to 16,000 respectively. The findings further underscored a weakening of pressures stemming from the "refugee crisis" which has been highlighted by German municipal authorities.