(ANSA) – Brussels, July 8 – Italy had the lowest birth rate in the European Union last year with just eight births for every 1,000 residents, compared to an EU average of 10 per 1,000, Eurostat said on Friday. It said nearly 5.1 million babies were born in the EU in 2015, 40,000 fewer than the previous year. The highest birth rates in 2015 were recorded in Ireland (14.2 per 1,000 residents), France (12), the United Kingdom (11.9) and Sweden (11.7). The EU population at the start of 2016 was estimated at 510.1 million, compared with 508.3 million on 1 January 2015.
During 2015, almost 5.1 million babies were born in the EU, while more than 5.2 million people died, meaning that the EU recorded for the first time ever a negative natural change of its population, Eurostat said. Therefore, the increase in the union’s population was driven by net migration. The most populated States are Germany (82.2 million residents), France (66.7 million), the UK (65.3 million) and Italy (60.7 million).